Disgraced spiritual master dies in custody

Society & Culture

Top society and culture news for February 10, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "The phone call: Trump acquiesces on One China Policy."

  • Wang Lin, disgraced Chinese ‘spiritual guru’ to the stars, dies in custody / The Straits Times
    Wang Lin, a self-proclaimed qigong master who was facing several criminal charges including the kidnapping and murder of one of his former disciples, died on Friday at the age of 64 at a hospital in east China’s Jiangxi Province. The Fuzhou City Intermediate People’s Court said his death was due to multiple organ failure resulting from an autoimmune disorder. Qigong is a set of beliefs and practices based on traditional Chinese medicine, martial arts, meditation and philosophy.
    Wang came to public attention in 2003 when videos and images of him performing acts such as conjuring live snakes from thin air were widely circulated on the internet. He also claimed to have supernatural powers to cure cancer. Over the years, Wang cultivated relationships with celebrities, businessmen and top officials, including Alibaba’s Jack Ma, the pop star Faye Wong (王菲 Wáng Fēi), and Liu Zhijun, China’s ex-railway minister, who was sentenced to death in 2013 for bribe taking and abuse of power. An investigative article (in Chinese) from the Beijing Times in 2013 showed that most of his fortune was made from connecting wealthy businessmen to government officials through his circle of friends, rather than from his magic skills or healing powers. Internet users have been speculating on the real cause of his death, and much of the social media commentary on the news has been censored.