Talking Point

Good riddance to the Rat

After a tumultuous Year of the Rat, does the Ox promise calmer times?


The Year of the Ox begins on February 12: feng shui masters say it could be a bad year for Dogs like Trump

Week in China ran its first review of the feng shui fortunes for the Chinese New Year ahead exactly 12 years ago, beginning with the Year of the Ox in 2009.

At the time, we wrote that Ox Years (which welcome people born in 1949, 1961, 1973 or any 12 years before or after) are typically calmer periods in the Chinese zodiac, and certainly more subdued than their predecessor, the Year of the Rat, which is often associated with natural disasters and economic crises.

Looking back, the Year of the Rat that has just ended was much in line with our bleak predictions 12 months ago, marked as it was by the coronavirus pandemic and shrinking economies.

There are hints of similarities between the previous cycle and this one: the last Year of the Ox was 2009, when the-newly elected US President Barack Obama, who also happens to be born under the Ox zodiac sign, passed a massive economic stimulus package to revive the country’s economy after the global financial crisis.

This time round it is his former VP and newly inaugurated 46th President Joe Biden who is pushing through a much bigger relief package to help the US get back on its feet as it struggles to contain the pandemic.

Years of the Ox have often featured significant events in China too. In 1949, another Ox Year, the Communist Party took control of the country, ending the civil war against Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang, which fled to Taiwan. And 1997 was the year when Britain returned control of Hong Kong to China and the current Ox Year marks another major milestone for the Chinese Communist Party with the hundredth anniversary of its founding, an event that will be celebrated with much fanfare in July. The Year of the Ox begins tomorrow.

So what might this Ox Year entail?

Hong Kong feng shui master Cai Xinghua reckons that this Ox year is lacking the fire elements, often seen as a driving force of the global economy. She also worries that the political tensions between China and the US show no sign of going away, which could further dampen the recovery of the world’s economy.

“The chaos around the world during the Ganzhi Year [last year; see WiC480] may continue to impact events in the new year. The impact of the damaging Sino-US relations will still be felt this year and there will also be more protests around the world. The world’s stability will have to wait. So overall, the situation may not be too optimistic,” Cai explained.

Since this year is also characterised as a ‘water’ and ‘metal’ year, industries linked to those two elements will thrive. Sectors like logistics, shipping and financial services could do well. However, the fire element is quite weak so oil and telecoms industries could suffer in the new year, feng shui practitioners claim.

When it comes to property prices, a columnist with Hong Kong’s Apple Daily is counselling caution. The property sector, which is associated with earth, may take a beating because of the clash with ‘metal’. Ergo the construction sector may struggle too, especially in the latter part of the year.

What else does the future hold, based on your own zodiac sign?

Being born in this zodiac year itself means that Oxen risk offending the Heavenly God. According to Hong Kong feng shui master So Man-feng, Oxen over 60 years of age are particularly at risk of health problems. Don’t skip regular health checks, he warns.

Feng shui master Lee Shing-chak has different advice, telling Oxen to stick with outfits of muted tones because wearing bright colours could attract unwanted attention and trouble. He also warns Oxen against getting too close to knives and other sharp objects, which could lead to injuries. On the plus side, he reckons Oxen can boost their fortunes by getting married or buying a property.



People born in the Year of the Tiger (1974, 1986, 1998 or any 12 years before or after) can afford to take some big risks this year, it seems. With many lucky stars shining down upon them, they will find the year to be rewarding both financially and professionally. For Tigers that are thinking of starting a business, now is an auspicious time to get that going. However, Tigers will find their fortunes start to taper off towards the end of the Ox year, as they come closer to the beginning of their own cycle year.

Still, overall things are looking good for Tigers like the actress Yang Mi, 34, who has a new film Assassin in Red scheduled for release on the first day of the Chinese New Year.

Because Rabbits (1975, 1987, 1999 or any 12 years before or after) and Oxen are not very compatible, Mak Ling-ling predicts some bumps ahead for bunnies. Rabbits may find themselves entangled in scandals so they should avoid being too high-profile. So Man-feng reckons that Rabbits may even feel a bit lonely this year on the relationship-front. Lee Shing-chak advises that they avoid hospitals and funerals if they want to avoid bad luck.

Dragons (1976, 1988, 2000 or any 12 years before or after) and Oxen aren’t on friendly terms either, so this is not a year to take big risks, says So Man-feng. The feng shui master believes that Dragons will experience conflict at home and in the workplace so they should learn to hold their tongue and avoid acting impulsively (Jack Ma, a Dragon, probably learned this lesson better than most last year).

Those who are looking to start a business should wait until next year and Lee suggests that they watch their diet and exercise regularly to stay fit. Nonetheless, they can boost their personal fortune by getting married, having a baby, or buying a house.

Snakes and Oxen, according to Chinese zodiac principles, are friendlier, so those born in the Year of the Snake (1965, 1977, 1989 or any 12 years before or after) might reap plenty of rewards in the year ahead – the most famous Snake in China is President Xi Jinping.

In their careers, they will be recognised in their workplaces and enjoy a promotion (not that Xi needs to worry too much about this). However, without the star of taohua, singletons will likely find their love life to be somewhat of a disappointment this year. Their health may also suffer, warns feng shui portal Xianggangge, so Snakes should not over-extend themselves.

Those born in the Year of the Horse (1978, 1990, 2002 or any 12 years before or after) have offended the Heavenly God and that means they will struggle with headwinds this year. So Man-feng reckons that Horses risk minor health issues like skin problems and allergies. No matter how minor the ailment, they should seek medical attention right away.

Take note the 78 year-old Joe Biden, who is a Horse.

For those born in the Year of the Goat (1979, 1991, 2003 or any 12 years before or after), it will be a year of major changes. So Man-feng advises Goats to avoid risky activity, although not all change is bad, he reckons. Those who are married may find themselves welcoming a new addition to the family. Such predictions may resonate with 29 year-old actress Zheng Shuang, a Goat, who was embroiled in a surrogacy scandal in early January (see WiC526).

Those born in the Year of the Monkey (1980, 1992, 2004 or any 12 years before or after) will enjoy a smooth and calm year, which is much better news after such a tumultuous 2020. There are several lucky stars favouring Monkeys during the Year of the Ox, says So Man-feng, and they will find their careers progressing quickly in the 12 months ahead. Here’s hoping for Huawei’s chairman Ren Zhengfei, who is a Monkey, after a difficult year for the telecom giant that he founded.

According to the Chinese zodiac, Roosters and Oxen are close and as a result, those born in the Year of the Rooster (1981, 1993, 2005 or any 12 years before or after) can expect a productive and harmonious period. Mak says that Roosters will enjoy tremendous career advancement this year, which sounds like music to the ears of pop icon Ariana Grande, a Rooster, 27.

There will also be plenty of investment opportunities but Mak warns Roosters not to be overly ambitious or they will find themselves suffering financially.

As another of the zodiacs to have annoyed the Heavenly God this year, Dogs (1982, 1994, 2006 or any 12 years before or after) will find the year more challenging. In their workplaces they could fall victims to office politics and gossip. Xianggangge warns Dogs to be careful with their words this year because they risk creating misunderstanding. In more serious cases, they could find themselves in legal troubles.

Dogs may also see their personal wealth take a hit either from poor investment decisions or through pleas for help from friends who need financial support. None of this bodes well for one of the world’s most famous Dogs, former US president Donald Trump.

Plenty of lucky stars are shining on people born in the Year of the Pig (1983, 1995, 2007 or any 12 years before or after), says Xianggangge. The portal predicts another round of career breakthroughs for them in the new year. Writer-director Guo Jingming, a Pig, certainly could use some help after his film was pulled from the cinema on accusations of plagiarism (see WiC523). Pigs will also find this a financially rewarding year.

And finally, after a traumatising 12 months, people born in the Year of the Rat (1972, 1984, 1996 or any 12 years before or after), can look forward to a year of fresh starts. When it comes to Rat careers, Mak says that hard work will be rewarded handsomely this year. This may be a good time to try something new, she adds. But Xianggangge warns Rats not to stretch themselves too thin this year or risk over-exhaustion. Perhaps 36 year-old NBA superstar LeBron James, a Rat, should take heed.

And finally, a quick review of some of the best-known Oxen:

Li Bai (701-762): one of the most famous and prolific Chinese poets. From the Tang Dynasty, many of his poems still appear in school textbooks in China today, including 静夜思 ‘Homesick in deepest night’



At my bed’s head,

a pool of white moonlight.

In a moment of doubt,

I take it for frost.

My head lifts to follow

its light to the moon;

Drifts down again

to follow my heart home.

(translation by

Heather Skye Irvine)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): German musician of the Baroque period and generally regarded as one of the great composers in Western musical history.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821): a French military general during the French Revolution who later went on to crown himself as the first emperor of France. Under his reign, France conquered much of Europe in the early 19th century.

Margaret Thatcher (1925-2003): the first woman to become prime minister of Britain between 1979 and 1990. Brought about major political and economic change during her time in office.

Barack Obama (born 1961): the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017 and the first African-American to hold the office.

Zhang Ruimin (born 1949): the man who turned Haier from a little-known refrigerator manufacturer – on the brink of bankruptcy – into the world’s largest white appliances company and has a market capitalisation of $45 billion.

Li Bingbing (born 1973): an actress who first rose to fame in the 1999 film Seventeen Years. Since then, she’s starred in Hollywood blockbuster films such as Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) and The Meg (2018).

Zhong Huijuan (born 1961): a former chemistry teacher, who became the world’s richest self-made woman after founding the Chinese drug maker Hansoh Pharmaceutical (see WiC457).

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