Henan bans foreign names

By Zhang Zhilong Source:Global Times Published: 2013-10-8 23:18:01

Central China's Henan Province is to ban the use of foreign person or foreign place names in the Chinese-language names of buildings, streets and other places.

But the situation of names written in their original language is not specified by the new regulation, to be effective on October 15.

The regulation seeks to fix the "chaotic situation of place naming," where new buildings and developments deploy vulgar nomenclature or simply worship anything foreign, Jing Ming, an official with the provincial government's civil affairs bureau, told China National Radio on Tuesday.

The rule might be expected to strike a hefty blow against well-known places like the "Zhengzhou Manhattan" shopping mall and "Venice Water World" hotel in Zhengzhou or the "California 1885" apartment buildings in Luoyang, although authorities have not outlined their plans for enforcement.

The regulation states that renaming places that don't conform to the new regulations should first be agreed "by local administrative departments and local people."

Organizations or people who name, rename, write off names or publicly use unapproved names face a fine varying between 200 and 1,000 yuan ($33-163) if they don't change it within a specified time.

The new rule also bans one place having multiple names or one name written in different Chinese characters.

A main road in Zhengzhou that runs east to west across the capital has eight names including East Avenue, West Avenue, Zhengbian Road and Shangdu Road, the Dahe Daily reported.

This confuses residents and is inconvenient for traffic management, Li Xiangping, an East China Normal University sociology professor, told the Henan Province paper, adding that when naming a place like a street, decision makers should weigh the local customs, historical and cultural background.

As for using foreign names for a community or building, Li did not think it necessary to ban them as long as local people didn't mind.

"The characteristics of an era can be seen from place names, and using foreign names hints that Chinese people are now also leading a rich life," Li told the Global Times.

Henan is not alone in issuing exotic regulations.

Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, issued similar regulations in 2008, banning foreign place names in the city. The fine for violation is up to 20,000 yuan.

Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, has banned using foreigners' names or foreign place names for naming places since May.

Real estate developers who want to use foreign names for their communities or villas must first apply to the local administrative departments, according to local media.

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