SOURCE / COMPANIES
'Chinese Baijiu' granted as the official English term for Chinese distilled spirit: Chinese customs
Published: Jan 14, 2021 04:46 PM

Bottles of Moutai. Photo: VCG



The Chinese spirit industry has hailed the official adoption of "Chinese Baijiu," as the new term for domestic distilled spirit labeling, following an application by the China Alcoholic Drinks Association (CADA) in April 2020. Industry experts said that the move might not have an immediate impact on the industry but would be significant for the global market in the long run.

This remark came as the share prices of the two major Chinese spirit makers fell again on Thursday, ending two weeks of steady gains. Wuliangye opened at 304 yuan ($46.9) and fell all day to end at 289 yuan, down 5.22 percent. Kweichow Moutai closed at 2,134 yuan, a drop of 1.39 percent.

Word of the new term went viral online and became one of the top 10 topics on China's twitter-like social media platform Sina Weibo on Thursday, with many netizens applauding the change and saying the new name will be like tofu or jiaozi, which have entered the English language as generic terms. The famous Chinese spirit has gone under dozens of different names until now, experts said.

Although accounting for one-third of global distilled spirit consumption due to China's huge consumer base, Chinese Baijiu has lacked a formal English name and was often named Chinese spirits, Chinese distilled spirits or Chinese liquor.

Chinese Baijiu, together with brandy, whisky, vodka, rum and gin, ranks among the top six distilled spirits in the world, according to the CADA. But for years, Chinese Baijiu lacked an official, accurate English name, causing confusion among overseas consumers.

Liquor as an important part of Chinese culture has a production history of more than 2,000 years. The spirit adopts natural, multi-strain solid-state fermentation and distillation, and it's completely different from the traditional concept of distilled spirits in the West.

The new English terminology reflects the true nature of Chinese Baijiu as an independent product category, and that makes it significant, an industry insider told the Global Times on Thursday.

"The share prices have nothing to do with the operation of the companies, nor do they fully reflect the actual market situation," the insider said.

Chinese customs officially adopted "Chinese Baijiu" as the new name for the drink, after repeated communication with the tax collection bureau of the Chinese customs authorities, according to the CADA. 

The official English name was used in the 2021 Import and Export Tariff of the People's Republic of China, which was implemented on January 1, media reports said.


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