- Title: CHINA: Number 8's luck seems to have run out in China
- Date: 16th June 2008
- Summary: RAYMOND LO SITTING NEAR HIS DESK (L!2) BEIJING, CHINA (FILE) (REUTERS) BIRD'S NEST NATIONAL STADIUM WORKERS ON THE STADIUM OLYMPIC RINGS IN FRONT OF THE STADIUM
- Embargoed: 1st July 2008 18:13
- Location: China
- Country: China
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA121Z1SX8KEGI730VBTQZ6MMFP
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: In China the number 8 is supposed to bring good fortune and many people had high hopes for the year 2008 - but so far, 2008 has brought only bad luck to the world's most populous nation.
When it comes to Chinese custom, the number 8 is supposed to be great.
In Mandarin the word for eight sounds similar to the word for wealth and so many see it as bringing good fortune and prosperity.
People pay extra for the number 8, whether it be mobile phone numbers, car registrations or buildings with an address containing the number 8.
In a mobile phone shop in one of Beijing's shopping centres, 8 is as popular as ever, with some phone numbers containing 8 selling for as much as 40,000 yuan ($5,777 U.S. Dollars).
"Because in China the word for 8 sounds like the word for 'wealth', numbers with 8s sell better and the price is higher. It's a Chinese belief and custom. Just like the number 6, which sounds like 'smooth'.
They sell better," a sales assistant said.
So people had high hopes for the year 2008. The Beijing Olympics will even begin on August 8, 2008 - the 8th day of the 8th month at 08:08 local time.
However, so far 2008 has been far from a fortunate year for China, leading many to draw new conclusions about the number.
Lu Ping, a student in Beijing, says that some people are linking the number 8 to the series of disasters that have shaken the country in the first half of this year.
"Because the Beijing Olympics are on the 8th day of the 8th month of 2008, and the dates of the recent disasters all add up to 8, a lot of people are saying perhaps this year is a disaster year for China and that maybe the Olympics won't go smoothly," Lu said.
And indeed 2008 has been hard for China, with the snowstorm which crippled much of the country at the start of the year, the Tibet protests and then the devastating earthquake in Sichuan province, which killed tens of thousands of people - and the earthquake happened only 88 days before the Olympics.
Now people, especially the online community, are discussing the implications of this and the fact that if you add the dates of these events together, you get eight each time. For example, the digits of the date of the May 12 earthquake are 5, 1 and 2, which add up to 8, a pattern which repeats itself for the other two disasters.
Many may be holding their breath on Wednesday (June 11), the digits of which also add up to 8.
And with two of China's top athletes, hurdler Liu Xiang and basketball player Yao Ming, both injured, many are wondering whether the number 8's luck has run out.
Maybe it is because the year 2008 is also the year of the rat - and according to Chinese astrology, that is far from lucky.
"The western calendar calls this year 2008 but in China it is the year of the rat. The year of the rat is actually is a pair of elements which is the earth sitting on water, and earth sitting on water is a mountain which is floating in the sea which means the earth is unstable. So therefore actually in the prediction for this year I did last year, I already mentioned that this is the year of serious natural disasters," Raymond Lo, a fortune teller in Hong Kong, says.
"For example in China, at the beginning of the year you have snow storms. So that's actually something to do with water, the serious influence of water, because water is cold. And then we have an earthquake. So the earthquake is actually occurring because of the unstable earth. Why did it happen in China last month? So it happens that last month is Feng Shui energy number five, which means bad luck," Lo says.
Whether they believe the superstition or not, most Chinese people will be thanking their lucky stars if the rest of 2008 and the prestigious Olympics aren't marred by any further setbacks.
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