Beijing to forbid addresses skipping "unlucky" numbers

The Chinese obsession to avoid "unlucky" numbers ran into trouble as govt vowed to prohibit avoidance of inauspicious numbers like four, 13 and 14.

Updated: Aug 20, 2012, 15:14 PM IST

Beijing: The age-old Chinese obsession to avoid "unlucky" numbers ran into trouble as government vowed to prohibit avoidance of inauspicious numbers like four, 13 and 14, in the registration of addresses for residences and vehicles in the capital city.

"The numbers of storied buildings, units and door plates should be coded and registered in numerical order and no skipping or selective use of numbers should be allowed," Zhou Qiaolin, an official of Beijing Municipal Administration of Quality and Technology Supervision said.

She said the prohibition will be included in a criterion for the setting of building name plates and door number plates which is to be implemented on Sept 1, state run Xinhua news agency reported.

Depending upon its success, the crackdown was expected to be extended to rest of the country.

The new coding criterion mainly targets new buildings rather than existing buildings, Li Xiaobo, an officer the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said.

"Requests to skip the `unlucky numbers`, though not that frequent, do occur. The new criterion is expected to root out the selective coding and registration of the door plates," he said.

The latest move targeting well entrenched Chinese numerology reflects the superstitious beliefs still held by many, who continue to prefer to avoid the number "four" because it sounds almost exactly like the word for "death" in Mandarin.

The belief is so strong that a vast number of residential buildings in the country do not have flours numbering four, 13 and 14.

This is the same for car registrations as well.

Old timers say the obsession against these numbers is rooted in the ancient Chinese culture and continued even after Mao`s Communist revolution spearheading atheist ideology.

It is not clear why the Chinese government which in the past was accused of following the practices in official ceremonies, chose to crackdown on the superstitious practices prevalent for long.

The official opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, for example, officially began at 8 pm on the eighth day of the eighth month in 2008, according to Xinhua report.

Many believe that the new rule may evoke strong reactions from public.

Chinese public feel so strongly about these numbers that many are willing to pay extra to register car plates or phone numbers containing the number "eight" because it sounds similar to the words for "making a fortune" or "prosperity" in Mandarin and Cantonese.