One big advantage of Chinese culture that I slowly learned to appreciate is the relative absence of religious fanaticism, so widespread in Islam and which has continuously increased to represent a global threat.
The Taiping Rebellion that waged in China from 1850 to 1864, in fact the bloodiest civil war in world history, with fatalities estimated to be as high as 70 million victims, must be considered a tragic exception.
However, the long uprising commanded by the self-proclaimed brother of Jesus, Hong Xiuquan (1814-1864), also had clear nationalist and political goals.
Through the God Worshipping Society he led since 1847, Hong sought not only the conversion of the Chinese people to a new and unique syncretic version of Christianity that combined it with folk religion, but to overthrow the ruling Qing-Dynasty and a complete state transformation.
Such zeal also haunted Christianity periodically, although the Crusades where a late reaction to Muslim expansion and the role of the Inquisition fostered by the Catholic Church has been vastly exaggerated.
The fact that Chinese beliefs were never so extreme doesn’t mean that superstition isn’t widespread in Taiwan, even in the 21st century. I vividly remember one related experience.
When I was single in Taipei, I once met a girl in the restaurant that her father was operating. She didn’t have a partner either and we went out twice, including visit to a museum.
It was nice, but nothing happened and due to our very different personal backgrounds, the whole thing wouldn’t have worked out anyway.
Nevertheless, her daddy had noticed something and one day, after I had finished eating, without any explanation he asked me straight away what my blood type and astrological sign were.
When I inquired why, the boss told me that he needed that information so he could go to a fortune teller at a local temple to find out if his daughter and I were a good match.
Shortly afterwards she suddenly got cold feet and disappeared from my life. As I thought that I better do the same and the whole family took over a business outside of the city, I didn’t have a chance to know the result of such interesting inquiry.
Although I liked him and the food he prepared, all in all I still think that this friendly gentleman would have been a father-in-law rather difficult to deal with.
That this habit is still quite common became evident when on March 20th, 2021, the Taipei City Government announced that firms that discriminate against job applicants based on their blood type or astrological sign could be fined.
The reminder came after a man believed that he was not hired for a job because the interviewers stated that a combination of blood type “O” and a “Leo” sign didn’t indicate the “right” personality.
If the firm is found to have contravened Article 5 of the Employment Service Act, which was amended in 2018 to prohibit any type of discrimination, it could face a fine of up to 52,700 US dollars.