Zhao C wins the battle to be unconventional

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 June, 2008, 12:00am

A university student who uses the letter 'C' as his first name has won a lawsuit against the government, and the right to keep his name.

Zhao C, 22, could not get his identity card renewed two years ago because his first name was a single letter. He was told to change his first name to Chinese characters otherwise no new ID would be issued.

The Jiangxi native has used the name for 20 years and it appeared on his original ID. But when new identity cards were introduced a few years ago, all mainlanders had to renew their cards.

When Mr Zhao applied for a new card in 2005, his application was rejected by police because regulations do not allow names to contain letters of the Roman alphabet, numbers or symbols, China News Service reported.

Mr Zhao, who is about to graduate and is looking for a job, said he might have an identity crisis if he changed his name to Chinese characters. 'People have called me Zhao C since I was a kid. I will not know who I am if my name is changed.'

His father, lawyer Zhao Zhirong, said the name was his idea. He said the 'C' symbolised his hope for his son.

'C is the first letter of the English word 'China' and its pronunciation is the same as the word 'west' in Chinese,' the father said. 'I hope my son will [one day] go to study in the west, while not forgetting he is a Chinese.'

The father decided to use his profession to fight for his son's right to keep his name.

Mr Zhao filed a lawsuit claiming that the civil code, which guarantees the right of citizens to decide and change their own names, took precedence over ministry regulations. The court ruled in his favour on Friday.

While Zhao C can keep his name, his case would set a precedent for other mainlanders with peculiar names wanting to defend their civil rights, the China News Service reported.

It said many people had started using four characters instead of three for their names. Using Roman letters or English words is not uncommon and, in some cases, parents have even used the symbol @ to name children born in the internet age.