Chinese Astrological Years


By 1762 the population of China had already reached 200 million people. This puts the modern figure of 1,312 million (in 2007) into context, it has always been a populous country.
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In Chinese astrology there are a sequence of twelve animals, each representing a year. The sequence is rat; ox; tiger; rabbit; dragon; snake; horse; sheep; monkey; rooster; dog and finally pig. The Chinese year in which you were born determines which animal it is. The Chinese year starts at Chinese New Year and not on Jan 1st so if you are born in January or February you need to account for when the Chinese year started in that year, you can check this by hovering the mouse over the year in the following list, a pop-up will show the dates of the Chinese calendar year.

Hong Kong, zodiac, sculpture
The Garden of the Chinese Zodiac features twelve carved animals in the gardens of Kowloon Walled City Park, Hong Kong

Each year is associated with an element as well as an animal. The Chinese ‘elemental essences’ are: Metal; Water; Wood; Fire and Earth. There is a gap of 60 years before the cycle repeats itself, so for example, a ‘Metal Sheep’ year is followed in 12 years time by a ‘Water Sheep’; only after 5 x 12 = 60 years will there be a ‘Metal Sheep’ year again. The animals represent the twelve earthly branches while the elements represent the ten heavenly stems.

Superpower China

There is worldwide speculation on where the future will take China. For thousands of years China was by any measure the top nation on Earth, and so it seems natural that after 150 years of turmoil China will become the leading country again. In this page we speculate on what this might mean to China and the rest of the world.
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A full astrological reading is a much more complex matter. For this to be done you need the year, month, day and hour of birth, this is known as the bāzì 'eight characters' as each item is written as two characters using the sexagemisal characters for recording dates. An astrologer will then be able to give predictions for your whole life.

It is all taken as a bit of fun and it serves as a polite way to ask someone's age (you can usually tell which 12 year span was the person's birth year). Here are the years with the associated animal and the earthly stem. The twelve names were also used for the traditional twelve (two hour) shí chen divisions of the day. In addition the propitious month of year and compass direction are given, taking account of these should give extra luck.

Earthly Branch
YearsTime of day
and Month
Chinese year of the rat

1924 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 2008 11pm to 1 am
7th Dec to 5th Jan

A rat in China is not the dirty, nasty creature seen in Europe. A rat is cool; calm and charming. They act with integrity, are persistent and are careful with money. They are generous to those they love.

Chinese year of the ox

1925 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 2009 1 to 3 am
6th Jan to 3rd Feb

An ox is quiet and easy-going. Practical and self assured they are often successful. As they are not outspoken they can be difficult to read and so easy to misunderstand and provoke to anger.

Chinese year of the tiger

1926 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 2010 3 to 5 am
4th Feb to 5th Mar

Tiger people share the power and courage with the admired and respected animal. Tigers are thoughtful and may be destined for high office. They can be selfish and offhand; tigers have difficulty accepting orders.

Chinese year of the rabbit

1927 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999 2011 5 to 7 am
6th Mar to 4th Apr

A rabbit is a popular creature, good at getting along with people. Gifted and ambitious they are proficient at business. They are prone to sadness and are not deep thinkers. Naturally lucky, a rabbit is skillful in handling money.

Chinese year of the dragon

1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000 2012 7 to 9 am
5th Apr to 4th May
East South East

In the West dragons are supposed to be violent and evil monsters. Not so in China, they are the most powerful of creatures but are friends as much as foes, and are considered lucky. Dragons have energy, courage and perception. Natural leaders, dragons are healthy and prosperous, however dragons can be spiteful and prone to anger.

Chinese year of the snake

1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 2013 9 to 11 am
5th May to 5th June
South South East

The wisdom of the snake is proverbial, and this is a snake's principal virtue. Spells of deep thinking can make them loners and independent. Wisdom with handling money makes them able at attain wealth, they are also blessed with good looks. As they are not very perceptive of those around them, they can make poor partners.

Chinese year of the horse

1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002 2014 11 am to 1 pm
6th June to 6th July

A horse is cheerful and easy to get on with but impulsive and with a short temper. Horse people do not always think things through; they may choose a partner on a whim. Horses are gregarious and love entertainment; they can also be good at managing money.

Chinese year of the sheep

1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003 2015 1 to 3 pm
7th July to 6th Aug
South South West

One of the most creative people, sheep (or goats) ponder on life and can get depressed. They are not leaders and tend to be shy but look after themselves well. However their gentle nature does not indicate a lack of passion. Sheep are naturally helpful people, aiding anyone in distress.

Chinese year of the monkey

1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004 2016 3 to 5 pm
7th Aug to 7th Sept
West South West

While the dragon is the ruler, it is the monkey that is held in most affection. Skillful and successful, monkeys have an abundance of common sense and are fun loving. Talkative and impish they can alienate people at times. They are avid readers and promote harmony rather than discord.

Chicken or Rooster
Chinese year of the rooster

1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005 2017 5 to 7 pm
8th Sept to 7th Oct

A chicken is sociable but thoughtful. Ambitious and positive they are often overly ambitious and seem reckless. Roosters, however can be outspoken and act selfishly.

Chinese year of the dog

1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006 2018 7 to 9 pm
8th Oct to 6th Nov
West North West

A dog in China goes not have the negative undertones that it has elsewhere. Dogs are loyal and dutiful and eager to please, which makes them good workers. There is a tendency towards selfishness and obstinacy, dogs do not take part in social affairs. Warm-hearted dogs can be relied on to stand up against injustice.

Chinese year of the pig

1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007 2019 9 to 11pm
7th Nov to 6th Dec
North North West

Like dogs, rats and snakes, pigs are not as bad as the Western association would make you think. Pigs are brave and strong, preferring to work on their own. A pig's knowledge is fairly superficial and they are not gregarious; pigs are loving and dedicated partners and friends.




The owl is a bird of ill omen in China and is considered to be unlucky.
Wed 17th May

Belt and Road Initiative

Spending a trillion dollars (yes $1,000 billion) is a serious investment. China’s big idea is to open up the country for much wider trade. The primary focus is to develop stronger links with Central Asian countries on the route of the old Silk Road. However the initiative seems all embracing as even New Zealand, hardly on the Silk Road is keen to be involved. The idea is for both an overland ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ (China to Europe) and a ‘21st century Maritime Road’ (China through the Indian Ocean to Africa and then north to Egypt). This has been shortened to ‘One belt one road’ or ‘Belt and Road’ or just ‘OBOR’ for short.

It is hard to work out exactly what the initiative is all about, there seem to be several factors and motives. One is that President Trump has continued to threaten China with extra tariffs to protect U.S. jobs from cheap Chinese imports. If China can open up new markets for her exports she will not be as badly hit by any protectionist measures. The U.S. continues to have a huge balance of payments deficit with China, in March 2017 the U.S. exported $9.6bn but imported $34.2bn. China’s heavy dependence on sales into the U.S. is a problem that needed to be fixed. In 2015 China’s main trade partners were: United States $457bn, Hong Kong $273bn, Japan $152bn, Germany $97.4bn and South Korea $90.1bn. Shifting trade to new countries will strengthen and stabilize China’s economy.

Many analysts also point to the problems of over-capacity in China. Just looking at total imports and exports is too crude a measure, the real problem is that China’s growth rate has slowed and the excess capacity in building related industries (steel, cement, construction) need new markets. If China can kick-start economic development elsewhere in the world she solves two problems at once - over-capacity at home and opening up new markets abroad. The China Communications Construction Group has already agreed deals worth up $40 billion in contracts with ‘Belt and Road’ countries. Sinking so much money in loans that may never be repaid is quite a risk. Venezuela now owes China $65bn and is not in a position to repay. Analysts consider such a huge project will be impossible to manage effectively and huge amounts are likely to be misappropriated.

The initiative comes at a particularly opportune time for the U.K.. Always keen on free trade and instinctively anti-protectionist the U.K. has more to gain than most other countries. With difficult talks ahead on exit of the E.U. trading block the opening up of possible deals with China all over the world is very appealing. U.K. politicians have been very keen to promote the initiative and use its undoubted trading expertise to jointly open up new markets.

The initial proposals centered on the countries of central Asia - along the route of the old Silk Road out of China. The initiative is therefore a way of re-invigorating trading links that were active for a thousand years before trade moved to China’s southern ports. The vast bulk of Chinese development had been along the south and eastern coasts, the poorest inland provinces have been left well behind. Of particular importance is the troubled province of Xinjiang. Positioned on the fringes of China the province is more Central Asian than Chinese with a Muslim majority. With frequent terrorist attacks by separatists in the province, China struggles to keep tight control. Recently China has banned Muslim parents from giving their children Muslim names and is embarking on a system of DNA profiling of every citizen. With the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative deals with neighboring Central Asian states (Takjikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan) the increased economic activity should lessen instability in the region.

The key point is that China is changing from an inward to an outward-looking nation, no longer putting internal development as the top priority. With increased economic involvement comes political power too, and some hawkish observers see this as the first stage in the building of a new Chinese Empire.

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