Chinese pray God of Wealth for a turnaround of their fortune in Dragon Year to beat economic slowdown

PTI | Beijing | Updated: 18-02-2024 17:01 IST | Created: 18-02-2024 17:01 IST
Chinese pray God of Wealth for a turnaround of their fortune in Dragon Year to beat economic slowdown
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Chinese people in large numbers flocked to Buddhist temples, especially the God of Wealth, as they welcomed the Lunar Year of the Dragon this week, praying for a turnaround in their fortune amid the slowdown of the world's second-largest economy.

Huge crowds are being seen in temples across China during this year's eight-day Spring Festival holidays ending on Friday, as Chinese people are embracing the Year of the Dragon. People are flocking to temple fairs to pray for blessings, luck, and good fortune for the coming year, the state-run Global Times reported.

Videos and posts on Chinese social media platforms showcased the busy scenes at the temple fairs in Beijing. More than 130,000 visitors visited the temple fair at Ditan Park last Sunday – the opening day of the fair.

Similar scenes were witnessed in many Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Fuzhou, where people gathered in temples to pray and take part in local fairs.

Large crowds were seen from 3:00 am at the Lingshun Temple in Hangzhou in East China's Zhejiang province last Wednesday to greet the God of Wealth, the report said.

A significant feature of this year's visits to the temples was the large number of young people, who were hit by the economic slowdown and increasing unemployment, which in recent months climbed to over 21 per cent, according to the widely-publicised reports.

Besides those who flocked to the temples, there is still a large group of young people on the internet who say that they are more interested in welcoming the God of Wealth than finding a partner, the report said.

Many netizens have posted pictures showing that they have changed their phone and computer wallpapers to the ''God of Wealth''.

On Wednesday, numerous citizens commented on a video posted by China's Ministry of Finance on social media, expressing their hope to receive good fortune and jokingly requesting the ministry to support their dreams, the report said.

Some tourist attractions have also arranged celebrations centred around the 'God of Wealth'.

Last week, some people dressed as the 'God of Wealth' at the entrance of the Shanghai Tower greeted visitors and wished them good fortune.

The Shanghai Tower Observation Deck also invited a group of window cleaners dressed as ''Airborne Gods of Wealth'' to descend from the top of the skyscraper safely, offering New Year blessings and good luck to the visitors on-site.

Official data showed that China's economy grew by 5.2 per cent in 2023 which was well within the range of the government's target. However, business confidence remained low.

As the property crisis drags on, coupled with the flare-up of geopolitical tensions with the US and other Western countries, private and foreign investments have contracted, falling to their lowest levels in more than a decade.

Private investment shrank 0.4 per cent year-on-year, while foreign investment dropped by 8 per cent from 2022, according to a report in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

With safe avenues of savings on the decline, the Chinese are increasingly turning to investments in gold, like their Indian counterparts, placing their faith more in the yellow metal to save their money.

As a result, China overtook India's gold consumption last year, according to the latest figures released by the World Gold Council (WGC) early this month.

China's gold consumption in 2023 rose to 630 tonnes surpassing India's 562.3 tonnes.

China's investment in gold bars and coins grew 28 per cent to 280 tonnes in 2023 and the country saw an increase of 10 per cent in demand for the year.

"Gold has remained popular in the past year and been bought mainly as a safe-haven asset. Prices have surged, but we expect they will hit new highs in 2024," Evelyn Xu, a wealth manager at a branch of the Bank of Jiangsu in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, told the Post.

The gold rush followed China's benchmark CSI 300 index, which tracks 300 of the biggest companies on the Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses, has slumped by 38 per cent since January 2021, hitting a five-year low last week.

In the property sector, home prices in 70 large and medium-sized cities fell in December at the fastest pace in almost nine years, the Post reported, quoting the most recent data from China's National Bureau of Statistics.

Summing up China's economic situation, Wu Fei, a professor at the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance under Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said investors got used to big rewards amid China's rapid economic growth in the past decades, but that is no longer the case.

"Everyone realises winter has come, and they're becoming more conservative, having a better sense of risk, especially when it comes to the property market and stock market," Wu said.

''It's like you were wearing little in a warm room, then you go outside, and you feel very cold," he told the Post.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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