All That Hot Air

Qi is the energy that drives all body systems in TCM theory. Herbs and needles are used to regulate the flow of qi within the body and treat various ailments. In Chinese martial arts, qi is used to focus energy to parts of the body. Unlike herbs and needles which are administered by the practitioner on the patient, qigong is believed to be able to achieve the same results as herbal and acupuncture treatment by regulating the flow of qi in one’s own body.

This sounds like what one might read in many Chinese martial arts novels, but when qigong is practised by some charismatic individual (aka influencer with or without social media) with an appropriate dose of mysticism, the character becomes a spiritual guru, revered not just by commoners but by celebrities or even the business and political elite.

Xinhua New Agency reported that in July 2015 that Zou Yong, a fuel company president and Communist Party official, was kidnapped in Pingxiang City, Jiangxi Province. Days later, a dismembered body was found in a Po Yang Lake, Jiangxi Province. It was identified as Zou Yong’s body with DNA samples obtained from his two sons.

Zou Yong

As a prominent figure in business circles as well as the CCP, solving Zou Yong’s murder was a priority for the police. Evidence pointed to Zou Yong’s qigong master Wang Lin along with two other suspects. They were promptly detained by the police.

Wang Lin whose hometown was in Jiangxi, was based in Hongkong but he travelled frequently to the mainland to give talks and demonstrations to entranced audiences. He led many followers to believe that he was able to cure cancer and conjure snakes from thin air. He shot to prominence in 2013 after photographs of him posing with top celebrities and businessmen were splashed in newspapers. Endorsed by these celebrities, Wang’s fame and popularity escalated.

Wang Lin with Jack Ma and Zhao Wei. Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Suharto and Faye Wong were also his admirers.

Wang Lin’s followers also included the families of top party officials. Rumours that Wang Lin had pocketed enormous sums of money from corrupt and superstitious officials who believed he could help advance their careers were also circulated online, but Wang Lin continued to ride of the wave of his popularity.

Jack Ma said: “Exploring, appreciating and inquiring about the unknown is my hobby. Even magic contains profound mysteries behind its appearance.”

A survey conducted by the Development Research Centre of the State Council showed how 70.5 percent of Chinese entrepreneurs occasionally exhibit signs of “frets and volatile tempers,” and 62.7 percent said they were “extremely exhausted.” Those who claimed to sometimes get “depressed,” “doubtful,” “frustrated” and “pessimistic,” respectively accounted for 37.6, 33.1, 28.6 and 16.5 percent among those who took the poll. Condemned former security chief Zhou Yongkang also had a mystical fortune teller, a “Xinjiang Sage” by the name of Cao Yongzheng giving him protection and advice. Ironically, Cao would later appear in court as a prosecution witness against Zhou Yong Kang.

It seems that even though the “magic” behind these gurus were scams, Wang’s disciples gained peace of mind (perceived as “protection”) from his teachings. He could have lived on this way if he had not gone overboard.

There were also those who associated with Wang not to seek his protection but to network with rich and famous people. To his detractors, Wang was never polite. Wang Lin once said to someone who questioned him: “I can use qigong to poke you to death across dozens of metres.”

Wang Lin’s murdered disciple Zou Yong had reportedly paid him 5million RMB to teach him “mystical qigong”. He had also bought Wang a Rolls Royce for 4.4million RMB. But Zou soon realised that he had been cheated and he went around telling people that Wang Lin was a con artist. Zou Yong once told Chinese media that Wang had promised disgraced railway minister Liu Zhijun he would set up a magic stone in his office, so he would never fall from power. Liu was later sentenced to a suspended death sentence for taking bribes in 2013. Wang Lin and his former disciple Zou Yong filed lawsuits against each other.

In 2013, Zou informed authorities that Wang had illegal guns and an unlicensed medical practice. Local police and health authorities failed to convict Wang due to lack of evidence. However, a damning letter written by Wang surfaced in 2015. In the letter, he promised a reward of 5 million RMB for anyone who could get Zou Yong “arrested and sentenced to death”. Of course, he was just hiring a killer!

Meanwhile, two of the suspects in police custody had admitted to kidnapping and killing Zou. However, there was no evidence to conclusively link Wang with the two hitmen. Wang Lin was arrested and one and a half years later, he died in police custody on 10 Feb 2017. The cause of death was “serious autoimmune disorder leading to multiple organ failure”.

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