12/29/2015, 00.00
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Ningxia Communist leader expelled for believing in feng shui

For the first time since Mao Zedong’s death, a top official is punished for adhering to a Taoist practice that seeks harmony among cosmic elements. For the Party, the culprit engaged in “organised superstitious activities”. The episode contradicts President Xi’s support for “sinicised” religions.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – For the first time since the death of Mao Zedong, the Chinese Communist Party has expelled one of its top officials for favouring feng shui, a Taoist cultural practice.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party announced that Bai Xueshan, vice chairman of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, “violated political discipline” and engaged in “organised superstitious activities”.

The reference here is to feng shui, a practice that is part of the traditional Chinese concept of creating harmony in the environment through architecture and civil engineering.

Bai, 54, fell from grace because of his efforts to expand the city of Wuzhong northwards, towards the Yellow River, according to Taoist principles. He served in the city from 2007 to 2012.

The Commission found that he “lacked party awareness,” promoted impractical infrastructure projects, and engaged in corrupt practices.

Feng shui (Chinese: "wind- Water") is a form of geomancy that seeks to create harmony between the elements of the cosmos to improve human well-being.

Even today, markings or the patterns on the ground and orientation in space are used to find the best harmony between wind, water, fire, and air. Its principles go into the design of houses, furniture, and even burials.

Defying the centuries, such traditional beliefs survived all of the country’s upheavals, including the Cultural Revolution, the most iconoclastic event with respect to religion.

Now, after decades of militant state atheism, many Chinese, in both cities and countryside, are returning to old practices.

Traditional Chinese medicine and feng shui are valued as part of the country’s cultural heritage, becoming tourist attractions, as well as the object of scientific research.

Until recently, President Xi Jinping seemed to be supportive of this trend. On several occasions, he expressed support for “religious freedom in the country", stressing however that faiths had to be sinicised as much as possible.

Now though, it would seem that “sinicisation” does not apply to feng shui.

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