Flying has been an integral part of modern life and a well-oiled airport holds the key to a city’s competitiveness and the livelihood of its residents.
So how do the thousands-year-old feng shui (風水, literally, wind and water) metaphysics see the modern aviation industry, in particular, the location of such key transport facilities in relation to a city’s well-being and fortune?
The feng shui practice discusses architecture in metaphoric and physiognomic terms of “invisible forces” that bind the universe, earth, and humanity together.
An airport is like a key field and channel for qi (氣), or “life force” and “energy flow”, and can bring fortune and prosperity to the city it serves if its location chimes astrologically with the position and movement of stars and constellations in the Chinese horoscope.
Unfortunately, Hong Kong’s current airport, built on reclaimed land in Chek Lap Kok near Lantau Island, has been boding ill for the city ever since its July 1998 inauguration.
This is because the old airport at Kai Tak in east Kowloon sat in an auspicious position that corresponds with the gate of the Heavenly Market Enclosure (天市垣), in the asterisms of the north sky of a celestial sphere in traditional Chinese astronomy.
Thus in feng shui, there was no better airport location than Kai Tak in Hong Kong as the place is the avenue for all vital elements – universe, earth, and most importantly, people – in the Heavenly Market.
In reality, Kai Tak Airport was exactly where Hong Kong took flight to its global stature as it started to develop into a global hub for trade and business.
The city’s new Chek Lap Kok airport is outside the western edge of Victoria Harbour, in a position in the feng shui hexagram that represents kinks, strife and even diseases, according to I Ching, or Book of Changes (易經).
Thus, since 1998 Hong Kong has seen a raft of troubles and tumults, from the Asian Financial Crisis, SARS epidemic in 2003, to today’s political chasms.
Interestingly, Bangkok has also gone through profound misfortune after its new Suvarnabhumi Airport was opened in September 2006, of which the corresponding location on Luopan (羅盤), the Chinese magnetic compass, indicates conflicts and power struggle.
Before long, the then Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who opened the new airport, was dragged down and sent into exile after a military coup, and none of his successors could stay in office for long ever since.
Beijing has been the capital of China for over eight centuries and its feng shui matters not only to the city’s own fate and fortune but those of the entire nation.
Today’s Beijing was built on the relics of the Khanbaliq, or Dadu (大都), the capital of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), and Beijing started to swell in size since the reign of the Yongle (永樂), Emperor of the Ming dynasty.
The fact that China is the only ancient civilization that is still thriving is proof of its well-positioned capital in terms of feng shui.
And thus, the suggestion to move the capital to another city can be risky and detrimental to the fate of China.
Indeed, traffic congestion and air pollution that Beijing is grappling are all side products of a humming capital city.
The current airport, Beijing Capital International Airport, lies to the northeast of the downtown, corresponding with the gate of the celestial sphere enclosure just like Hong Kong’s Kai Tak.
What’s more, throughout the first two decades of the new millennium, the most auspicious qi comes from the northeast, according to I Ching.
Beijing’s second airport, still under planning, will be built on the city’s southern border close to Hebei province, on a site of an ancient swamp that became the royal hunting grounds during the Qing dynasty.
Many feng shui masters favor a site with water in the south, and where the second airport lies is exactly of this type.
I wonder if the central government sought advice from the nation’s top feng shui geomancers for such an excellent choice.
China’s ancient year numbering system typically uses a cycle of 60 years, called jiazi (甲子), to delineate era. The current 60-year cycle started in 1984 and will end in 2043.
Beijing’s southward urban expansion and the construction of the new airport during the following decades suit well with the qi and other feng shui principles, and I see the nation largely smoothly sailing to the end of the current cycle.
Still, in the decades between 2026 and 2037 China may encounter some challenges including political instabilities and economic downturn.
The writer Michael Chiang Hong-man is a Hong Kong-based architect with a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Hong Kong.
This article appeared in the May Issue of the Hong Kong Economic Journal Monthly.
Translation by Frank Chen
[Chinese version 中文版]
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