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Qigong Master or King of Conmen?

Scandal reveals 'Taoist' qigong master has wooed top Chinese officials and celebrities alike


The mysterious qigong (气功, breathing exercises meant to cultivate energy) master Wang Lin’s low-key profile was disrupted recently when the public caught Ma Yun, CEO of China’s tech giant Alibaba, paying him a visit. In the small town of Pingxiang in Jiangxi Province, he has been sitting on the “iron throne” of wealth and high-status in his 5-story villa “王府” (Wángfǔ, a prince’s palace in Imperial China, which in this case also means Wang’s Mansion). Telepathy, making a snake appear in an empty tub, reviving a severed snake, cutting steel with his bare hands… These are some examples of Wang Lin’s “supernatural” powers and this qigong master’s special skills.

Along with fengshui masters, palm readers, fortune tellers, sky gazers, and exorcists, people with professions similar to Wang Lin have treaded in the jianghu world (江湖, martial arts community) for thousands of years. However, these have been discredited as superstition and unscientific over the last century with the coming of the modern age and atheist beliefs promoted by the Communist Party. Nowadays, they are only spotted near tourist attractions like temples or in rural and underdeveloped villages and towns. What makes Wang Lin so special is that his followers/visitors have all come from the highest social strata in China. A Beijing News reporter found that aside from Ma Yun, his visitors include government officials (former Indonesian president Suharto, former procurator-general of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, former chief executive of Hong Kong, etc.), stars (actress Li Bingbing, CCTV host Zhu Jun, Jet Li, etc.), President Hu’s sister-in-law and cousin, and Jiang Zemin’s sister and sister-in-law. These visits have brought him into the inner circle of the richest class in China, as well as great wealth and numerous qigong admirers. Offbeat China adds:

“The 61-year-old Qigong master owns a 5-floor villa (more like a palace), two of which are used to exhibit pictures of himself and his famous visitors such as stars, celebrities, officials and even foreign kings and politicians. He also owns two Hummers and a Rolls-Royce. One of the Hummers, according to Wang, was used by the US military during Iraq war and can endure as many as 15 hand grenades.  He is so rich that even the local government occasionally loans from him.”

With Executive Vice President of Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China

With Executive Vice President of Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China

Why do these famous and important people visit him? For blessings, healing, and his tricks. Wang Lin boasts that he has healed 50,000 patients. His secretary told the BJ News reporter that once he spent so much of his energy on healing a brain tumor that 7 tumors invaded the Master’s brain, which took him a long time to recover from. But he doesn’t just cure anyone. A follower says that Wang Lin almost never attends to the locals. Only the rich can get Wang Lin to treat them, for a large sum of money. Offbeat China mentions “according Zou Yong, one of Wang’s followers, he first paid a 5 million yuan apprentice fee, then a Rolls-Royce and a Porsche as gifts, plus gold and cash”.

Wang with former Chinese president Jiang Zemin’s sister and her husband

Wang with former Chinese president Jiang Zemin’s sister and her husband

According to Wang Lin, his life story is as follows: he left home at 7 to study Taoist supernatural arts with a Emei Mountain Taoist monk. Upon completion of his studies, he came back and participated in the Down to the Countryside Movement, and was jailed for destroying agricultural property during the Cultural Revolution. After he left the prison, he eventually obtained Hong Kong resident status and then returned to his hometown. His 4-year cellmate however, remembers those years differently, as Wang Lin was often beaten and bullied for bragging.

Offbeat China translated several of Wang Lin’s claims and how they fell short:

“According to Wang, his superpowers have been studied by 17 scientists in Japan for 7 days. The US intelligence department (CIA?) used to ask him to move to the US and promised to give him as many as 70 green cards…

Wang’s killing trick and what wins him fame is to make snakes appear out of an empty tub by telepath. ‘During the 0.01 second before I turn over the tub, my spiritual self goes out into the wild to catch snakes, and then puts them back into the tub’…

Liu Zhijun,China’s former minister of Railway who has recently been sentenced to suspended death for bribery. Wang used to promise Liu to find him a “backer stone” so that Liu wouldn’t “fall in his life time.” No one knows how much of Liu’s bribe was spent on Wang and the “backer stone,” all we know is that the stone didn’t work.”

Sima Nan, a popular television pundit, journalist, and social intellectual condemned Wang Lin for being a fraud. Wang Lin exploded during the Beijing News interview that he could kill Sima Nan with his qigong from across the room. Sima Nan responded that hey may be afraid of natural powers, but never supernatural powers. After attracting widespread anger across the internet, Wang Lin has threatened the Beijing News reporter who interviewed him already:

“Zhang Han, a reporter of Beijing News, received a phone call from Wang Lin, a mysterious martial arts and Taoist philosophy master who accused Zhang of taking bribes for the report and threatened him, saying “both you and your family will not end well.” The report disclosed how Wang allegedly made his wealth by branding his mystery to attract celebrities.” (via China Daily)

Netizens have ridiculed and lamented how Chinese top officials and celebrities ever fell for Wang Lin’s words and tricks in the first place. Qigong, like martial arts, is intended for health and fitness, rather than illusions and supernatural abilities. However, several of Wang Lin’s visitors have stepped up to deny that they have ever believed in his supernatural powers. Li Bingbing claims that she only went to consult him about treating illnesses, the local government says the officials only went to Wang Lin’s in order to meet with Ma Yun to discuss how to introduce agricultural products into e-commerce, and the qigong master himself opened up a Weibo account denying ever cursing Sima Nan.

* Update on 07/30: Wang Lin’s former follower Zou Yong has confirmed with the police that “Master” Wang Lin left for Hong Kong on July 26th via Shenzhen, Beijing News reports. So far, only Zou Yong has filed a police report, claiming that Wang Lin sold 6000 bottles of fake Maotai to him at the “bargain” price of 1.84 million RMB. No one else has sued him or filed a report against him.

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