The historical reason why the Mayan apocalypse is a big deal in China
...Even if the world doesn’t end up exploding, [Dec. 21] still has some darker meaning for China, and not just because some people seem to be taking the prediction surprisingly seriously. Wong also wrote on Twitter, “Many Chinese have been buying candles because of rumors of a 3-day power outage to start on Dec. 21.” Chinese authorities recently arrested 500 members of a doomsday cult that was noisily predicting Dec. 21 as the day. The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos writes that “China is more taken with doomsday talk than you might expect,” something the government takes very seriously. “China has a long history of religion-infused political rebellions,” he writes.
A new, award-winning book by historian Stephen Platt documents the Taiping Rebellion, a 19th-century religious insurrection that ended in tens of millions of deaths. Osnos writes, “But these days the Party is especially uncomfortable with obscure religious beliefs because, in the post-Socialist era, many in China have begun to hunt for something to believe.”...
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