Fri, Dec 21, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Doomsday jitters affect Taiwanese factories in China

‘BIZARRE’:Reactions to the ‘end of the world’ myth in China have ranged from people quitting work to drinking, looting and performing charity work

By Yang Chiu-ying and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Panic among Chinese workers over a purported Mayan prophecy about the world ending today has stalled some factories’ operations, several China-based Taiwanese businesspeople have said.

Anxiety among workers, with some saying they were quitting and demanding their severance pay, has resulted in a near-shutdown or standstill at some factories, according to the business owners.

Master Huitzu (慧慈法師) of Fazhi Shengtian Temple (法旨聖天宮) in New Taipei City (新北市), who recently returned from a trip to China, said she met at least five Taiwanese businesspeople in Shanghai, Xiamen and Shenzhen who complained to her about the panic stirred by the supposed doomsday prophecy.

“They said their employees were emotionally disturbed and some have become unstable and kept asking for their severance pay,” she said.

“It’s giving Taiwanese bosses a lot of headaches,” she said.

A Taiwanese fortune-teller known as “Shen Lung” (神龍) said he had encountered similar cases during his recent trip to China.

The doomsday prophecy has triggered mixed reactions in China, he said, with “some people saying they wanted to take the occasion to indulge in pleasure, while others said they wanted to do charity work or commit crimes.”

“Many employees don’t go to work anymore. Some government officials have taken to drinking all day. A Taiwanese trading firm manager in Shandong Province saw his company looted because of the doomsday myth. There are plenty of these bizarre cases in China now,” he said.

Taiwanese fortune-teller Hsu Hsueh-hung (余雪鴻) attributed the phenomena to China’s huge population and the big disparity in education levels. He said the situation was not serious in the larger cities.

In contrast to the curbs on access to information in China, most folklore academics said Taiwanese have easy access to news and other sources, so most Taiwanese have only expressed a mild curiosity or have said they “are not affected” by the prophecy.

Even if they do inquire about the Mayan prophecy, most Taiwanese express doubts about it, they added.

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