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Opinion | Chinese New Year: Year of the Water Rabbit. By Francisco Martínez Boluda #OpiniónVP

It has already become a classic in this column to refer, always on those dates, to the Chinese New Year as well as the sign of the Chinese horoscope that corresponds to the year in question. Well, next Sunday, January 22, 2023, a date that coincides with the very Valencian festival of San Vicente Mártir, the Chinese New Year begins. It is also often called the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year in China and is undoubtedly the most important holiday of the year not only in the Asian giant but also in many Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and various countries of the Southeast Asian.

As you have already mentioned in previous years, this festivity is based on the lunisolar calendar that was used in China in the past. According to this calendar, the celebration of the new year should take place on the first day of the first lunar month, called ‘正月’ (zhēng yuè), concluding on the fifteenth day of the year with the celebration of the Lantern Festival, ‘元宵节 (yuánxiaojié) or also referred to Festival of the Lanterns. It is a tradition that in this period of the year, the vast majority of the urban Chinese population moves to their places of origin to celebrate the arrival of the new year as a family and thus be able to honor and remember their ancestors. This year the holiday will be marked by a huge boom in covid-19 after the lifting of restrictions and the covid-0 policy that has been in force since the beginning of the pandemic by imposition of the Chinese government. This policy has been able to save numerous lives but it is also true that, in its most recent phase and when the whole world is living with covid-19, the negative impact on the economy and the social frustration generated have caused a change in the Chinese authorities.

The Chinese New Year is the one that determines the transition of the zodiac signs of the Chinese horoscope that consists of 12 animals: rat, ox or buffalo, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Just as the year 2022 was the year of the Tiger, this year 2023 corresponds to the Rabbit. Thus, all people born in the same year have the same Chinese zodiac sign and share common characteristics. In addition, we must take into account the 5 elements of Chinese tradition: fire, earth, water, metal and wood) that also mark the year in question. It seems that in 2023 the element that has been assigned to it is that of water. This year 2023 will be the year of the water rabbit.

Preparations in Malaysia for the Chinese New Year.  Photo: HAFIZ SOHAIMI/BERNAMA/DPA

What are people born under this sign like? They are undoubtedly the luckiest of the Chinese zodiac. They symbolize elegance, grace, deep goodness, self-confidence and a penchant for moral and aesthetic beauty. It seems that they are characterized by their tender, sensitive, serene, calm, understanding character, they crave protection. They are ambitious but prudent and rarely get emotional or lose control of themselves. They like family life. They are refined and hedonistic. They can be vain and even narcissistic. And, like all rabbits, suspicious. Among the celebrities who share the sign are Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Deep, Lionel Messi, Tina Turner either David Beckham.

The rabbit represents material prosperity, peace. It is incompatible with unbridled aggressiveness, chaos, violence. This year 2023 is expected as a year of hope or as a year of respite, of truce, necessary to strengthen ourselves before the true radical change. In this sense, several experts in Chinese astrology have agreed that this year of the water rabbit is a year of transition between the blows of the previous year of the tiger and the true transformation in the history of humanity that will take place next year, 2024. with the year of the Wood Dragon. In this sense, the wounds caused by the tiger have materialized in the terrible war in Ukraine provoked by Russia and which constitutes the most relevant war conflict in Europe since the end of the Second World War. This aggressive conflict of unprecedented severity in the last 50 years is accelerating geostrategic, political and economic changes that mean that we are leaving behind the world of yesterday, as I would say Stefan Zweig, and replacing it with a new world whose configuration we do not yet appreciate or visualize. This causes us to find ourselves with very accentuated feelings of uncertainty, restlessness and disorientation.

Individually, it is appropriate that this year be used for personal strengthening with the purpose of being in a better or optimal condition for the challenges that lie ahead. Only in this way will we have chances to overcome them successfully. Thus, taking into account that the rabbit for the Chinese is the sign of luck (it is curious, perhaps Bugs Bunny and his status as lucky rabbit is Chinese-inspired), you have to make an effort in a serious inner work and oriented to the search for self-identity and authenticity. This will allow a reconnection with the world, with nature, with others and with oneself. This year of the rabbit is conducive to that necessary introspection of the spirit and soul.

Preparations in Malaysia for the Chinese New Year.  Photo: WONG FOK LOY/SOPA IMAGES VIA ZUM/DPA

What does the world hold this year of the rabbit? It seems that we will continue in general in what The Economist has called the “permacrisis” which is defined as a prolonged period of insecurity and lack of stability. Indeed, as I have noted before, the world is in transition. The old liberal and Western order of which Spain is a part is resisting the attacks against a non-Western alternative with a clearly more authoritarian bias led by the People’s Republic of China. We do not know what the outcome of this drama will be. And we also know that if we want to defend the benefits of our system (which it has and many!) we will have to adopt a more assertive and dynamic position. The effects of the invasion of Ukraine will be long lasting in inflation and its most painful manifestation in the astronomical increase in the costs of food and energy. Premises that had prevailed for decades, such as the impossibility of resorting to nuclear weapons, low inflation or the inviolability of borders no longer apply. What is evident is that the new geostrategic challenge has led the West to unite again (the United States and Europe) but in turn has increased the gap between the West and the rest of the world. Thus, it is worrying that the majority of the world’s population does not really support Western sanctions on Russia. This illustrates that President Xi’s stated refusal to see Western values ​​as universal values ​​is starting to catch on in a very important part of the world.

For all of the above, we have plenty of reasons to anticipate that the year 2023 could be potentially dangerous in the worst case and hard in any case. However, when I can, I like to end with some notes that can invite some hope. In this sense, in the year 2023, India will surpass China as the most populous country in the world, which will mean that a democracy (with its own idiosyncrasies but of Anglo-Saxon inspiration) can increasingly constitute a reasonable alternative to China in the sphere of of supply chains. In this way, it would try to reduce dependence on China. On the other hand, it seems that inflation will gradually be reined in by the central bankers, although it will not disappear because it is here to stay. On the other hand, the shock in energy prices caused by the war in Ukraine will invigorate and accelerate the switch to renewable energy. Which is also good news as the result can be a more diverse, greener and more secure global energy system. In short, it is possible to conclude with a pure and hopeful expression that has always fascinated me. May God distribute luck!

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