A blogger in China has been forced to apologize and pay hefty fines after claiming that an office complex in Beijing had bad feng shui.
Zhuhai Shengun Internet Technology, which operates the WeChat account “shengunju” — or “fraud bureau” in Chinese — published an article in November criticizing the construction of Wangjing SOHO, which stands as one of the city’s landmark buildings.
Completed in 2015, Wangjing SOHO is one of several developments named after their property firm owner, SOHO China, which billionaire couple Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin run.
Designed by the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, the building, composed of three curved towers, is home to corporate tenants, the likes of which include/d instant messaging app Momo, game streaming platform Panda TV, anime website AcFun and bike sharing service Bluegogo.
According to Caixin Global, the article, titled “Feng Shui of Beijing Wangjing SOHO, A Waterloo for Internet Companies?” claimed that its unlucky location and layout brought malevolent forces to tenants, a number of which reportedly struggled, went bankrupt or shuttered completely.
Bluegogo went bankrupt in 2017 after struggling for months, while Panda TV shut down its server in March after failing to raise funds.
Feng shui, also known as Chinese geomancy, has long functioned as a reference in Chinese architecture.
While generally regarded as a pseudoscience, many continue to ascribe to its laws, which emphasize the auspicious positioning of objects in relation to natural (i.e. sunlight) and artificial (i.e. structures) factors.
“The roads around Wangjing SOHO form a great evil spirit, symbolizing conflicts,” the article read, according to CNN. “All the feng shui taboos can be found at the same time in Wangjing SOHO.”
“The companies based in Wangjing SOHO basically all follow one trend: They grow fast in the initial phase, then lose momentum later and eventually decline quickly.”
On Wednesday, Judge Hua Ouyang of the Beijing Chaoyang District Court ruled against Zhuhai Shengun Internet Technology for its “misleading” article filled with “malicious insults.”
For effectively smearing SOHO’s reputation, the blogger was ordered to apologize to Pan and pay 200,000 yuan ($30,000) in fines.
“The article applies superstition to Wangjing Soho building, which institutes defamation,” the court said, according to the South China Morning Post.
It’s unclear how exactly the article affected the building, which claimed to have an occupancy rate of 98% and generated 386 million yuan ($57.5 million) last year.