BEIJING – As the Chinese diaspora rings in the New Year around the world this week, many are asking what 2012 and the Year of the Dragon has in store for China, its people, its economy and its relationship with the rest of the world.
For the answer to these questions and countless others that define our everyday lives, mainlanders often turn to their local feng shui expert for answers.
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Millions around the world celebrate the Lunar New Year, which begins Monday and welcomes the Year of the Dragon.
Feng shui, the Chinese art of balancing yin and yang to create harmonious surroundings, has experienced something of a revival here since being squelched during the Cultural Revolution. While it has become something of a novelty for most, there are still many Chinese who take predictions from feng shui experts seriously, elevating the art of feng shui into a highly lucrative profession for experts who provide their expertise to superstitious clients.
Just how profitable? Some top consultants are said to make tens of thousands of dollars per consultation.
But for those of you who do not have thousands in spare cash to hire a top feng shui expert, we here at Behind the Wall consulted Beijing-based feng shui master, Chen Shuaifu, to get his thoughts and predictions for 2012.
Good year for Dragons, Rats, Monkey and Roosters
Chen, 59, has been in the industry for years and is currently chairman of the Chinese Feng Shui Association, a trade group that has between 50,000-60,000 members.
Chen predicts that this will be a prosperous year for those born in the year of the Dragon (those born in 1940, ’64, ’88,’ ’12), Rat (’36, 60,’84,’08), Monkey (’32, ’56, ’80, ’04) and Rooster (’33, ’57, ’81, ’05). Of these zodiac animals, those born in the year of the Rat are poised to have particularly good luck in 2012.
As snakes grow up, they get longer and eventually turn into dragons, so Chen also believes that those born in the year of the Snake (’29, ’53, ’77, ’01) also stand to benefit from this being a Dragon year.
That prediction probably bodes well for politician Xi Jinping, who was born in 1953 and is widely expected to be elevated to the top Communist Party post in 2012.
Conversely, those born in the year of the Dog (’34, ’58, ’82, ’06) seem poised for a bad 2012 and Chen strongly urged Dogs to postpone major life decisions like weddings until next year when their luck should improve. Whatever choices Dogs of the world make in 2012, Chen especially urges them to think twice about marrying a Dragon this year.
For everyone else, 2012 is an auspicious year to get married.
Watch out for real estate deals
Besides a zodiac animal, every year also has an element assigned to it as well. This year’s element, water, paired with the Dragon is said to be an auspicious combination that should allow prosperity to flow freely.
To that end, Chen believes that as that positive energy flows through the start of 2012, there should be a rebound in China’s export trade. Though he echoed the concern of senior Chinese leadership – most noticeably Premier Wen Jiabao – that inflation and price instability could creep back, Chen predicted it would not be the issue it was in 2011.
Chen’s confidence, though, ends with Chinese real estate. On this issue, it would seem that the zodiac’s message echoes many financial institutions in predicting that this will be a tough year for the already deflating mainland housing market. Chen urges people to avoid real estate decisions at all costs and instead invest in commodities like gold, building materials and agriculture food products.
In regards to the Sino-U.S. relationship, Chen sees good momentum that should lead to increased mutual cooperation and development.
Feng shui experts also dabble in physiognomy, the study of man’s outer features to determine their personality or character and Chen is no exception. In evaluating President Barack Obama’s first term, Chen pounces on his trim figure, particularly his thin jawline. Chen believes that Obama’s weak-looking chin fuels the perception that he is weak and thus prone to challenges by his opponents.
However, despite Chen’s poor assessment of Obama’s facial features, it’s not all bad for the president. The feng shui master’s final prediction for the year of the Dragon: Obama in 2012.
On behalf of all us at Behind the Wall, a very happy Chinese New Year and best wishes for a prosperous Year of the Dragon.
NBC News’ Bo Gu and Eric Baculinao contributed to this report.