With Marxist doctrine fading among many of the Chinese, superstition has become increasingly common with party officials looking to achieve a promotion or better workforce cohesion.
In particular, Feng Shui, a system of geomancy popular among feudal Chinese (and Dads deciding where to put couches), has seen a resurgence among China's political class. Faced with mounting political pressures, the Times describes how one group of officials dealt with their problems:
For top officials at the local land resources bureau beleaguered by these and other headaches, there could only be one explanation for the miasma of misfortune they believed was threatening their careers last year: the pair of ferocious stone lions that guarded the state-owned China Tobacco building across the street from their offices.
And so the local land resources bureau constructed a wall between their building and the ferocious lions:
“Our bureau wasn’t doing so well until we erected the barrier last year,” said the official, who gave only his last name, Chen. “Now things are a lot better.”
The leaders of the Communist Party are not too keen on this resurgence of superstition, especially the part where officials used public money to move a gigantic boulder for no reason (okay, okay, bad luck):
In 2009, county officials in the western province of Gansu spent $732,000 transporting a 369-ton boulder six miles to the county seat, a move feng shui masters said would ward off bad luck.
Just try getting that through congress! (Although, this is really no different than building something to a symbolic height. But at least that wasn't public money).
Many officials who have used feng shui are trying to make sense of the controlled world of party promotions, where a whole career can be made or broken on a single impression. Some officials have taken it a little far...
In February 2010, People’s Daily, the party’s official mouthpiece, reported that Cui Xinyuan, the party chief of Gaoyi County in Hebei Province, had installed a decommissioned fighter jet in the middle of a boulevard opposite the government headquarters so he could soar to the empyrean of Chinese power. The jet was intended to block the flow of bad luck, according to local residents, but it ultimately just blocked traffic. Despite Mr. Cui’s public denials, his career crashed and burned a few months later, when he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for bribery and selling official titles.
Maybe the fighter jet should have been bigger?