China: Be­ware ‘spir­i­tual anaes­the­sia’

Waikato Times - - World -

CHINA: China’s top news­pa­per warned Com­mu­nist Party of­fi­cials yes­ter­day not to ‘‘pray to God and wor­ship Bud­dha’’, be­cause com­mu­nism is about athe­ism and su­per­sti­tion is at the root of many cor­rupt of­fi­cials who fall from grace.

China of­fi­cially guar­an­tees free­dom of re­li­gion for ma­jor be­lief sys­tems like Chris­tian­ity, Bud­dhism and Is­lam, but party mem­bers are meant to be athe­ists and are es­pe­cially banned from par­tic­i­pat­ing in what China calls su­per­sti­tious prac­tices like vis­it­ing sooth­say­ers.

The party’s of­fi­cial Peo­ple’s Daily said in a com­men­tary it had not been un­com­mon over the past few years to see of­fi­cials taken down for cor­rup­tion to have also par­tic­i­pated in ‘‘feu­dal­is­tic su­per­sti­tious ac­tiv­i­ties’’.

‘‘In fact, some of­fi­cials of­ten go to monas­ter­ies, pray to God and wor­ship Bud­dha,’’ it said. ‘‘Some of­fi­cials are ob­sessed with rub­bing shoul­ders with mas­ters, frater­nising with them as brothers and be­com­ing their lack­eys and their money-trees.’’

Chi­nese peo­ple, es­pe­cially the coun­try’s lead­ers, have a long tra­di­tion of putting their faith in sooth­say­ing and ge­o­mancy, look­ing for an­swers in times of doubt, need and chaos.

The prac­tice has grown more risky amid a sweep­ing crack­down on deep-seated cor­rup­tion launched by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping upon as­sum­ing power in late 2012, in which dozens of se­nior of­fi­cials have been im­pris­oned.

The Peo­ple’s Daily pointed to the ex­am­ple of Li Chuncheng, a for­mer deputy party chief in Sichuan who was jailed for 13 years in 2015 for bribery and abuse of power, who it said was an en­thu­si­as­tic user of the tra­di­tional Chi­nese ge­o­mancy prac­tice of feng­shui.

An­other much more ju­nior of­fi­cial, in the south­ern prov­ince of Jiangxi, wore charms to ward off bad luck, it said.

‘‘As an of­fi­cial, if you spend all your time fix­at­ing on crooked ways, sooner or later you’ll come to grief,’’ it said.

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