Deciphering Superstitious Numbers in China – Lucky and Unlucky Numbers

In Chinese culture, people usually attach great importance to numbers especially for business related usage. Some auspicious numbers are considered as having supernatural power to bring good luck to the business and the owner; on the contrary, inauspicious ones might destroy the business or cause great disaster with ease. For foreigners who are trying to establish cooperation with local Chinese, enough attention should be paid to check whether the numbers are auspicious or not.

Lucky Numbers

Most Chinese people are willing to pay a large sum for certain lucky numbers as phone number, street address, driver’s license, etc.

The number 2 is viewed as a lucky number because since ancient times the Chinese used to believe that good things usually come in pairs. When they give presents or other things, they would love to see double symbols as it means double happiness and value.

The number 6 with almost the same pronunciation as the word “slippery” is also well received. It means that everything will proceed smoothly. A case in point is that a motorcycle license with number AW666 was bided at about $34,000. USD.

The number 8 is pronounced as ba in Mandarin, which sounds like fa, meaning good luck in making a large fortune, enjoys impeccable popularity. A most typical example is the Olympic Games held in Beijing in 2008. The opening ceremony was started at 8 PM on August 8, 2008 as Chinese believe that the auspicious numbers will bring good luck to their players.

The number 9, pronounced as jiu in Mandarin, is a homophone word for everlasting and longevity. For business usage, the number 9 is highly appreciated as business men want their business to last for long time. In addition, the number 9 is the highest number, and it means the highest achievements in life or the most senior position in the hierarchical system according to Confucius.

Unlucky Numbers

The number 4 with the same pronunciation as the word “death” is a terrible taboo. Chinese would try to avoid using the number 4 at most of the time. For instance, you might not find the level 4 buttons in the elevator in most hospital, hotels or apartments as it is usually replaced with 3A.

14 is also an inauspicious number as its pronunciation “yao si” means “want to die” or “destine to die” in Mandarin, which is a great taboo especially in hospitals, hotels or apartments.

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