Thesis: Feng Shui's Course in Hong

Pages: 12 (3375 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: History - Asian  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Those aspects of a culture that is very different might seem to be exotic and exciting and therefore attractive on a very basic human level. However, while this is something that can occur sometimes, it can also be the case that when people of one culture encounter something from a very different culture then there can be a pulling apart in an attempt to protect the traditions of each.

Feng shui is certainly not the only Chinese tradition that Hong Kong has continued to honor in a way that helps to define the relationship between the island and the Western world. Hong Kong capitalizes on a range of traditions that have long since died out on the Mainland and that are tied closely to ancient heritage of China, to the same distant past that gave rise to feng shui. These include a celebration of the sea goddess Tin Hau's birthday. The island festival is held to ask for good fishing in the upcoming year and fishers decorate their boats with signs of devotion to the goddess.

Hong Kong residents also celebrate the birthday of Lord Buddha, something that has been banished quite effectively from the atheist Mainland. The island also celebrates the birthday of Confucius, a figure that has as much importance to the Mainland as to Hong Kong but whose birth is more vibrantly celebrated in Hong Kong. And yet another celebration that is more widely celebrated on Hong Kong than in Mainland China are autumn and spring festivals in which families visit the graves of ancestors and share food among the living and the dead.

Hong Kong residents have been able to use these festivals and observances as well as similar ones in many ways as an export to sell its Chinese-ness to the West. However, it has tended to use feng shui as a way of protecting itself against the West.

Even Mickey Mouse & #8230;

In the case of Hong Kong and the power of traditional feng shui, Western traditions have at least at times been beaten down by the power of traditional acknowledgement of qi. Feng shui cannot be co-opted in the same way that the martial arts can, but it can be used to sell a vision of "Chinese-ness" that is attractive and highly marketable. Hong Kong Chinese have a distinct advantage over Mainland Chinese in balancing the traditions of feng shui with marketing it to the West because of its long-standing position between East and West.

Even Disneyland, that most American of companies, was very careful to note the importance of feng shui to Hong Kong culture. The company made "special adjustments and incorporation of Chinese principles" so that the park could "retain sensitivity to Chinese culture, its continuous observation as well as concern towards environment, geography and health."

The location of the Hong Kong Disneyland Park has been carefully planned to take advantage of the surrounding area including the auspicious hill formations nearby. In addition, by realizing feng shui principle to promote success, the locations of the park entrance and the entrances to the individual attractions have been adjusted to maximize energy and guest flow. Fountains are also placed throughout the park to accumulate good fortune (Disneyland Hong Kong Feng Shui).

The above citation suggests the ways in which feng shui occupies a fascinating position in Hong Kong. It is both enough of a serious element of the island's sense of culture and sense of self to be able to create the delicate balance that has been necessary to sustain traditional practices, including that of feng shui.

Tilting Toward the Mainland

One of the most interesting questions regarding feng shui in Hong Kong is what the effect of the handover in 1997 has had on the ways in which Hong Kongese have balanced Eastern and Western traditions and appetites. Certainly it is true that Hong Kong has become more Chinese in the last fifteen years. This is generally true of life on the island.

The "disappearance" of the Western "ex-pats" and the arrival of more mainland Chinese has had a subtle change in the look and feel of Hong Kong. According to some observers, its international quality has declined, while its Chinese cultural attributes are on the rise.

In addition, a significant number of executive positions in the private sector that previously were filled by Western "ex-pats" are now being done by mainland immigrants. Meanwhile, at the other end of the income spectrum, many jobs previously done by Hong Kong Chinese are being taken by recent mainland immigrants as well (Martin, 2007).

It seems possible and even likely that as Hong Kong becomes "more Chinese" in the sense that the island becomes more oriented to the Mainland and less to the West, it is likely that feng shui will come to be seen and utilized differently than it has over the century and a half that it was under British control.

As noted above, Hong Kong has clung to some traditional practice more closely than has the Mainland because Hong Kong residents are in some cultural and psychological ways in the position of immigrants. If this argument holds true, it would be the case that as Hong Kong becomes more and more like Mainland China (in part because it is and will continue to be) increasingly inhabited by Mainlanders.

There is considerable concern that the immigration of Mainlanders to Hong Kong has altered the economy of the island. But there is also concern (albeit it at a lower level) that the island's culture is also being changed:

The perceived influx of mainland Chinese at both the top and bottom of the income distribution is causing some tensions within the Hong Kong Chinese population. Much as the United States experienced with its waves of immigrants, some people in Hong Kong view the "newcomers" with suspicion.

This suspicious attitude towards mainland immigrants was reinforced by the Tung administration when it released rather dire predictions of the effects of the arrival of mainland children and their families during the "right of abode" controversy

It is not uncommon to hear claims in Hong Kong that mainland immigrants are responsible for a rise in crime, the decline in the quality of education, and a general loss of good manners in Hong Kong since the Handover (Martin, 2007).

One of the arenas in which tension can arise between the old and the new populations of Hong Kong is over the use of feng shui.

The previous example of the ways in which the Disney corporation used feng shui to win favor from the population of Hong Kong by incorporating some feng shui elements. It is difficult to say how sincere the Disney company was in incorporating fend shui elements. It is certainly possible that officials at this park believe in the efficacy of feng shui, or believe that their guests are serious advocates of the philosophy. However, it seems even more likely that Disney officials flaunted their fairly minimal of use of feng shui as a way of selling Chinese-ness to overseas visitors.

The use of feng shui in the building of Disneyland is a fascinating use of the quintessentially Chinese art form to sell a quintessentially American institution to both Chinese and American audiences. But before Disneyland arrived and before the British left, the colonial government was instrumental in helping to legitimize the practice of feng shui. Without the support of the British, feng shui would not be as healthy a practice as it currently is in Hong Kong.

People in Hong Kong rarely build without first getting a feng shui reading of architectural plans. Merchants believe business failures occur when the natural, harmonious movement of spirits is thrown into confusion by misplaced pillars, tables, windows or television antennas. With good feng shui, money flows in; with bad feng shui money flows out. Hong Kong's colonial government has long compensated rural villagers whose feng shui has been disrupted by land development. (Chua-Eoan, Stoner. & Wong, 1987).

It is ironic that the British should have helped to save feng shui in Hong Kong. But history is stained with irony.

Selling Chinese-ness

Certainly there has been an increasing trend in a trivialization of feng shui. While not precisely a part of the New Age movement, feng shui has been used in the West in very much the same way. Carroll describes this trend:

"... feng shui has become an aspect of interior decorating in the Western world and alleged masters of feng shui now hire themselves out for hefty sums to tell people such as Donald Trump which way his doors and other things should hang.

Feng shui has also become another New Age "energy" scam with arrays of metaphysical products ... offered for sale to help you improve your health, maximize your potential, and guarantee fulfillment of some fortune cookie philosophy (Carroll, 2010).

Such a movement towards the trivialization and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Feng Shui's Course in Hong.  (2011, October 6).  Retrieved September 15, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/feng-shui-course-hong/4479872

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"Feng Shui's Course in Hong."  Essaytown.com.  October 6, 2011.  Accessed September 15, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/feng-shui-course-hong/4479872.