Mainland ban on fung shui books brings luck to Hong Kong
Laura Zhou and Ng Kang-chung
Mainlanders are crossing the border to snap up fung shui books after an apparent ban on the mainland following an anti-superstition campaign ordered by President Xi Jinping , local fung shui masters say.
One, Gladys Mak Ling-ling, said she had been unable to get her latest book of predictions for the upcoming year of the horse registered for publication on the mainland, but sales in Hong Kong had jumped 20 per cent.
"My publisher in China has been trying to get this year's book registered but in vain," said Mak, who in the past has sold up to 300,000 of her fortune-telling books on the mainland each year. "They won't tell you it is because Xi Jinping is unhappy. But the application seems to have been held up forever."
She said she had heard from her local agents that her books were being snapped up by visiting mainlanders.
The crackdown on fortune-telling books came after what is popularly known as "the August 19 speech" by Xi at a meeting of party propaganda officials.
Xi was reportedly troubled by cadres' moral decline and their obsession with fung shui and the worship of deities.
Mak, who has worked with Beijing Fonghong Media for several years, said her annual books were usually on mainland shelves before the end of the year.
A staff member at Beijing Fonghong Media yesterday admitted the delay was due to a government ban. "The government policy this year [is] that books, for example, about fantasies, are not allowed," she said.
She declined to discuss Mak's book, saying only that "policy changed this year".
A deputy chief editor at a state-owned publishing company also said controls had been tightened recently. "We were never allowed to publish such books. But some small publishers might have published them. Recently, supervision has been tightened on this aspect," he said.
Hong Kong fung shui master James Lee Shing-chak said he had predicted trouble this year and chose not to release any books on the mainland.
He said he had got around the ban in the past by "liaising with magazines to give out my fung shui booklets as supplements".
Lee added that fung shui, also known as geomancy, was not superstition. "It requires a range of knowledge, including astronomy, geomorphology, meteorology, chronology and folk customs."
Geomancy master Alion Yeo Tin-ming said sales of his books had not been adversely affected.
"I do not release books [on the mainland]. Many mainlanders come to Hong Kong to consult me and buy my books," said Yeo.
"Actually, fortune-telling is very popular with mainland cadres.
"Many of my mainland clients have told me that they take fung shui books back to the mainland to give to senior officials as gifts," he said.
A poll of about 1,000 senior officials released last year by the Chinese Academy of Governance showed more than half of them believed in fortune-telling, astrology and face-reading.
In Chongqing in 2010, the construction of a building near the headquarters of the local government of Jiangjin district was stopped on the grounds that it was taller than the official structure, causing bad fung shui for the local administration.