Welcome to the Year of the Dragon

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24 Jan 2012
Week in China

The next generation

The Year of the Dragon, which commenced on Monday, 23 January 2012, is traditionally regarded as an auspicious year to bear children. Many Chinese believe that a child born under the sign of the fire-breathing creature will grow up to be a brave and powerful leader of great significance like former Chinese politician, statesman and diplomat Deng Xiaoping – a dragon sign, born in 1904.

“The dragon is a lucky sign”, one expectant mother in Kunming told Yunnan Television. “If you have a dragon in your house, everything will go up. Your family will become rich.”

Predicting just how many births will be scheduled for the Year of the Dragon is difficult. Cheung Tak Hong, who is in charge of the obstetrics and gynaecology department at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg that there is, at the very least, a five per cent increase in the number of babies born in a dragon year compared to the year before.

For manufacturers of baby food and nappies, the Year of the Dragon is a propitious one. Market research firm Euromonitor forecasts that China’s diaper market will reach RMB28.4 billion (USD4.5 billion) in revenue within the course of this year, up from RMB24.3 billion in 2011.

A turn of events

Paradoxically, according to feng shui principles, the Year of the Dragon is far from promising. “Chinese feng shui does not like a dragon year”, He Fan, a respected economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the New York Times. “Something happens in every dragon year, even if it is just a turning point”, he warned.

Indeed, the dragon year of 1928 marked a brief, prosperous interlude – it followed two world wars and preceded the stock market crash on Wall Street. In 2000, there was the dotcom bubble and a year later, the 9/11 tragedy. Dragon years have also been linked to earthquakes – in 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988 and 2000.

The dominant element

In 2012, the Year of the Dragon is associated with water, one of the five Chinese elements. Some feng shui masters say this could be a problem because dragons are meant to command the heavens. “A dragon in water is trapped and practically helpless”, feng shui practitioner Kerby Kuek told Hong Kong’s The Standard.

The last water dragon year was 1952, in which the Dow experienced a tough 12 months, although it gained 8 per cent. Therefore, some believe that the 2012 dragon year will be trying, yet an improvement from 2011 – the Year of the Rabbit.

“The dragon is one of the most powerful among the 12 horoscope signs, so the economic situation should change for the better, as the dark clouds are chased away and the dragon is allowed to display its majestic presence”, says Rayden Sim, a Singapore-based geomancer. Sim also anticipates that the first half of the new year will see many investors struggling to recover from the aftermath of last year’s economic crisis, but reckons the investment climate will improve after that.

The individual

Those born in the Year of the Dragon, Dog (1958, 1970 or any 12-year gap before or after) and Rabbit (1963, 1975), should be wary of the tumultuous year ahead. According to Lianhe Wanbao, a daily Singapore-Chinese newspaper, these particular groups will be ‘offending the Heavenly God’ in 2012.

For those born under the same sign as the cycle year, this period could be especially unfavorable. Dragon signs are cautioned to stay calm and remain in control of their emotions. Businessmen born in dragon years should take steps to be more conservative than usual to avoid investment losses.

There is better news for those born in the Year of the Ox (1949, 1961). “Even though oxen also offend the Heavenly God, they have many lucky stars that will lift their fortune. April is going to be an especially good month – expect a big promotion and pay rise. Those who are planning to start their own business should also kick-start their plans”, states Money Times.

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