China earthquake: Superstition a potent force
By David Eimer in Chengdu
Superstition is still a potent force in China. Some Tibetans believe the earthquake was revenge for the Olympic torch being carried to the top of Mount Everest.
When Manchester United won the Champions League last Wednesday, many put the blame on Chelsea’s captain John Terry for missing a crucial penalty.
In China, though, almost 20 per cent of the respondents in an online poll thought it was because United, the most popular English team in China, had been blessed by the victims of the Sichuan earthquake.
But the most popular quack theory for the quake revolves around the number ’8’, the luckiest number for the Chinese and the reason why the Beijing Olympics will start at 8pm on the eighth day of the eighth month of the eighth year of the century.
But as amateur numerologists have been quick to point out, 2008 is turning out to be an extremely unlucky year for China.
On January 25th, blizzards and snowstorms blanketed much of the country, paralysing the railways just as hundreds of millions of people were preparing to travel to their hometowns for the Chinese New Year.
Two months later on March 14, the protests erupted in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and the government’s heavy-handed response saw China condemned around the world. Then the earthquake struck on May 12.
For the conspiracy theorists, the common denominator is that when the date of each of these three disasters is added together, the result is 8. That is somehow proof that 2008 was destined to be a bad year for China. So 2 and 5 and 1, for January, makes 8, as does 1 and 4 and 3 and now 1 and 2 and 5.
And, of course, May 12 was precisely 88 days before the start of the Olympics. If the trend continues, July 1 is set to be a difficult day for China too.