HONG KONG, China – As the Chinese zodiac turns into the Year of the Pig next week, feng shui masters are predicting turbulence and division for world leaders at home – not least President Donald Trump, who risks having past secrets revealed.
Sitting behind a large wooden desk stacked with books and divination charts, Taiwanese fortune-teller Tsai Shang-chi explained that the pig can be a particularly bad year for those born in the year of the dog – which includes America's divisive president.
"All bad things done by people who were born in the dog years could be exposed and made public," he told AFP. "There is a chance he might be impeached."
Hong Kong feng shui master Thierry Chow concurred.
"For Donald Trump, I foresee there would be quite a lot of energy focusing on getting himself out of trouble," she explained. "There will be a lot of issues that will surface that won’t be very good for his career."
But Alion Yeo, another Hong Kong-based feng shui master, said Trump's opponents will need to time their moves carefully.
"The only chance to successfully impeach Trump is between December 6 and January 6, 2020," he proclaimed.
Feng shui – literally meaning "wind-water" – is influential in many parts of Asia, where people adjust their lives and carefully position items such as a cup of water or pieces of crystal in offices and homes to maximize their luck and wealth.
The philosophy says that all events are dictated by the varying balances in the 5 elements that make up the universe: metal, wood, water, fire and earth.
The Chinese zodiac switches yearly between 12 animals who adopt a different elemental attribute each time they come around, which soothsayers then use to make predictions.
This week's Lunar New Year welcomes the arrival of the "earth pig".
Brexit troubles brewing
Fortune tellers had predicted claws out for geopolitics in 2018, an "earth dog" year that saw the world's two largest economies embark on a trade war and a bitterly divided Britain barrel towards leaving the European Union.
Yeo said there should be fewer tensions between nations this year – but there would be little respite for politicians back home.
"Pigs represent water. And when water adds with earth it becomes muddy, which means people will lack clear thinking and their decisions will be problematic this year," Yeo said.
Using his "I Ching" ("Book of Changes") – the ancient Chinese divination book used by many fortune tellers – he alighted on the hexagram of "thunder", which he said represents shock and quakes.
"It indicates that every country will be very busy dealing with their internal problems, although international conflicts will be lessened this year," Yeo explained.
Not good news for Britain's Theresa May, who has had a rough year trying to get her own party behind her deal with the EU.
"The hexagram shows only by relying on the EU, Britain will be prosperous and lucky, and can develop smoothly and steadily," Yeo said. "A 'hard Brexit' would lead to riots and protests."
Taiwanese soothsayer Tsai said Britain faces a tough year whether it stays in or out of the EU.
"The country's economy would be bogged down whether Brexit will be realized or not and it would be a year of grave challenges for May."
Boy for Meghan?
On the US-China trade war, Tsai said he held little hope for a breakthrough partly because the muddy confluences of the pig year will prompt both sides "to stick to old and conservative ways of thinking and only look at what is happening right in front of their eyes".
"The parties involved in the US-China trade war would not see the long-term consequences so negotiations are likely to fall through," he said.
Chow said Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was born in the year of the snake, is facing "an enormous energy that represents movements, shifts and sometime if it is not managed well, it will become trouble".
But a good year beckons for Prince Harry's wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, who is expecting a baby at the end of April or early May.
"We do see it is a very good year to have a baby for her," Chow said.
And the baby's sex?
"For her birth chart, it is a bit more male dominant energy. So I would say to expect more of a boy than a girl." – Rappler.com