Hogwarts comes to Hunan: Chinese officials fired for casting spells

BEIJING - Two Chinese officials have been sacked for involvement in "superstitious activities," including casting spells to aid promotions and attending geomancy courses under the guise of business trips, state media said on Friday.
Members of the ruling Communist Party are not supposed to follow any religion in officially atheist China, and the government takes a particularly harsh line on officials who practice what it deems are superstitious folk beliefs.
Xinhua news agency said Tang Yuansong, a former county housing official in the central province of Hunan, went on five fengshui training courses under the guise of "investigation tours" starting in 2008.
Each session cost 54,000 yuan ($8,038), which Tang claimed back as business expenses, Xinhua said, citing a statement from the local anti-corruption watchdog office.
Tang also earned 5,000 yuan a year for practicing fengshui for others, it added.
The other person sacked, also a former county official, had "asked others to set up an altar to cast spells and paid 100,000 yuan in tribute each time, with hopes of being promoted", Xinhua said.
Both have been expelled from the party and will be further investigated for suspected criminal acts, it added.
It was not possible to reach either official for comment and it was unclear if they have been allowed to retain lawyers.
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