New regulation sees ban on skipping unlucky numbers on buildings

Developers of new buildings in Beijing will no longer be able to miss out those like 4 and 13, which have negative connotations

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2012, 3:23am


Developers will not be able to skip "unlucky" numbers such as four, 13 and 14 in the registration of Beijing addresses after a new regulation comes into effect on Saturday.

"The numbers of multi-storey buildings, units and door plates should be coded and registered in numerical order and no skipping or selective use of numbers should be allowed," Zhou Qiaolin, an official at the Beijing Municipal Administration of Quality and Technology Supervision, told Xinhua.

Li Xiaobo, from the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, which drafted the new regulation - the first on the mainland to cover such matters - said it would only apply to new buildings. The bureau will be in charge of supervising and implementing the new standard.

"Requests to skip the 'unlucky numbers', though not that frequent, do occur," Li said. "The new criterion is expected to root out the selective coding and registration of door plates."

The regulation was released for public consultation in February last year and originally also banned the use of letters of the alphabet in identifying buildings or houses. That would have meant an end to the common practice of identifying office buildings as Block A, Block B, etc., but that ban has been removed in the final version of the regulation.

The numbers on new buildings and their door plates will need to be decided upon when the building is in the final stages of planning. If there are vacant plots on the street, a number will be reserved for every 10 metres of street frontage.

A survey of 2,596 internet users conducted on a microblog site found that more than 46 per cent supported the regulation, saying that skipping "unlucky" numbers was a superstition that should be stopped.

Another 31 per cent said they were just numbers and it was all right to follow numeric order.

However, 22 per cent said they opposed the regulation because it was common practice to skip such unlucky numbers.

This is just one example of the Chinese obsession with numbers and the preference for eight, which sounds similar to "prosper" or "rich", five, representing "happiness" or "blessing", and nine, for "long-lasting".

For example, the official opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympic Games began at 8pm on the eighth day of the eighth month in 2008.

Four, which sounds like "death" in Putonghua, is very unpopular on door plates or car licence plates, and people are willing to pay extra to avoid a number ending in four.

It is also common to see fourth floors skipped or changed to 5A or 5B to avoid mention of the number.