The Chinese Professor X: Money, power and absurdity

Alia | July 23rd, 2013 - 6:11 pm

In the small southern town of Luxi, Jiangxi province, Wang Lin is a household name. He is the rich and well-connected Qigong master who is best known for his ability to make snakes appear out of an empty tub using his telepathic superpower. Now, Chinese netizens across the country know the name and ask to know more. What they care most about isn’t his Professor X-like superpower, but how, in the year 2013, a Qigong master is able to attract such a large number of admirers like stars, celebrities, successful businessmen and even high-profile government officials.

1Qigong, with roots in traditional Chinese medicine, martial arts and ancient Chinese philosophy, is the exercise of qi, what can be loosely translated as “life force” or “energy flow.” By practicing breathing, movements and meditation, Qigong is said to be able to strength both the body and the mind. The ultimate purpose is to find an inner balance of one’s internal life energies, and to keep an external balance with the outside world.

It all sounds good except that many Qigong masters in China, lured by money and fame, want to be Professor X and start to “pick up” superpowers. For a long time and till this day, the title “Qigong master” is more or less a synonym for fraud. Wang Lin, as described in an in-depth report by Beijing News, is exactly what seems to be a fraud Qigong master. Yet his followers are not the usual poor, elder and less-educated kind.

Much of Wang’s success can be attributed to the fact that he has remained pretty much unknown to the public in the past 20 years. His low-key life was broken by a recent visit by Jet Li, world-known kung fu star; Zhao Wei, popular Chinese movie star; and Ma Yun, founder and former chairman and CEO of China’s ecommerce giants Taobao and Alibaba. When netizens saw pictures from the visit, they started to wonder: “What’s so special about this particular Qigong master that one of China’s richest men wants to seek wisdom from him?”

From left to right: Ma Yun, Wang Lin, Zhao Wei

From left to right: Ma Yun, Wang Lin, Zhao Wei

It turns out that Wang is truly special, in terms of both his wealth and how he accumulates his wealth. The 61-year-old Qigong master owns a 5-floor villa (more like a palace), two of which are used to exhibit pictures of himself and his famous visitors such as stars, celebrities, officials and even foreign kings and politicians. He also owns two Hummers and a Rolls-Royce. One of the Hummers, according to Wang, was used by the US military during Iraq war and can endure as many as 15 hand grenades.  He is so rich that even the local government occasionally loans from him.

Wang started his Qigong practice since he was eight. For many years, he has been learning supernatural feats from a Taoist monk from Sichuan. He started to develop superpowers from the age of 13. At 16, he’s already a master with powers such as telepathic movement, telepathic healing, X-ray vision, illness treatment and fortune telling.

According to Wang, his superpowers have been studied by 17 scientists in Japan for 7 days. The US intelligence department (CIA?) used to ask him to move to the US and promised to give him as many as 70 green cards. But Wang loves his homeland too much to leave.

During his prison time (reasons unknown), he used to use his telepathic powers to smuggle delicious food and drinks for his inmates. Though, in the memory of Huang Zhaojun, who lived in the same cell for 4 years with Wang, the Qigong master was often beaten very badly by other prisoners for bragging. When asked about whether he believed in Wang’s superpowers, Huang said: “He won’t be beaten if he has any.”

Wang's palace-like home

Wang’s palace-like home

Wang’s killing trick and what wins him fame is to make snakes appear out of an empty tub by telepath. “During the 0.01 second before I turn over the tub, my spiritual self goes out into the wild to catch snakes, and then puts them back into the tub.” Wang described how the trick works to journalists.

Tan Shuyao, Party secretary of the local anti-drug smuggling police who have watched the trick for over 200 times, told journalists: “You will believe it when you see it yourself.”

Wang during his snack trick

Wang during his snake trick

But of course, businessman like Ma Yun and government officials visit him for more serious deals. And more expensive deals, too. According Zou Yong, one of Wang’s followers, he first paid a 5 million yuan apprentice fee, then a Rolls-Royce and a Porsche as gifts, plus gold and cash. Not sure how much Ma Yun or Jet Li pays for their visit.

Among the many people Wang claimed to have helped, two are even more high-profile than Ma Yun and Jet Li. One of the best-known stories is that he successfully treated Suharto, the second president of Indonesia. Suharto and his wife even wrote him a personal thank you letter, in which the couple thanked God for bringing Wang to them.

What makes Chinese netizens even more exciting is that many of China’s top government officials and their family members are also Wang’s admirers. Among them is Liu Zhijun ,China’s former minister of Railway who has recently been sentenced to suspended death for bribery. Wang used to promise Liu to find him a “backer stone” so that Liu wouldn’t “fall in his life time.” No one knows how much of Liu’s bribe was spent on Wang and the “backer stone,” all we know is that the stone didn’t work.


Liu Zhijun and Wang

Wang’s story draws a ton of ridicule online. Most netizens asked why so many seemingly smart people would buy into a con man’s tricks. Many believed that the twisted desires and the hollow souls of those in power and money in China are the reason of why a Qigong master like Wang still has a market.

Netizen 荣剑2011 commented: “Looking at pictures of Wang and those government officials is like seeing them in court to be judged. Do they have beliefs? Do they have ideals? Do they have the compassion of a normal person? No. All they want is to ask those masters to make sure that their power and wealth last forever. Longevity of the body has always been the pursuit of those who don’t have a soul. These people have long been rotten inside.” Another netizen 傅国涌 commented: “From these pictures, one can understand China. These rich and powerful crawl under the feet of Wang. It’s both laughable and pitiful. We are truly living in the worst of times.” 

#Qigong Master Wang Lin# is now the No. 1 trending topic on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblog service. Most netizens don’t believe in Wang’s superpowers (12276 non believers vs. 649 believers so far), but it doesn’t really matter as long the rich and powerful keep chasing after him. 

Qigong master Wang Lin and his powerful friends [Pics from @何兵 on Weibo]

Wang with former Chinese president Hu Jintao’s sister-in-law and niece


Wang with former Chinese president Jiang Zemin’s sister and her husband 


Wang with Jia Chunwang, former procurator-general of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, a post equivalent to Attorney General in the United States


Wang with Chen Minzhang, former minister of China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission who is supposed to believe in and promote more scientific ways of health maintenance 


Wang with Zeng Yinquan, former chief executive of Hong Kong


For those who know Chinese, check out the following video of Wang’s famous telepathic snake trick starting from 2’33”

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7 Responses to “The Chinese Professor X: Money, power and absurdity”

  1. [...] see “The Chinese Professor X: Money, Power, and Absurdity,” Off Beat China’s profile of [...]

  2. [...] Yun, founder of Chinese e-commerce firms Alibaba and Taobao. One blogger, according to the blog Offbeat China, wrote, “From these pictures, one can understand China. These rich and powerful crawl under [...]

  3. Ben Dan says:

    Very particular about where the bowl went, wasn’t he? Gee.. Trap door, anyone? Not sure what wisdom you could gain from a man who demonstrates so little respect for life.

  4. kodabar says:

    Snake trick, not snack trick. Mind you, I don’t know what he does with them afterwards, so maybe…

  5. Someone thinks this story is hao-tastic…

    This story was submitted to Hao Hao Report – a collection of China’s best stories and blog posts. If you like this story, be sure to go vote for it….

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