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China: Around The Nation

How do China’s streets get named? One student finds out after online maps mistakenly pick up on his prank

Art student Ge Yulu put his name on anonymous street as part of an art project – and the name stuck

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2017, 3:29pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2017, 3:50pm

Several online maps have named a street in Beijing after an art student who, a few years ago, erected his own street signs bearing his own name on them, a national newspaper reports.

Ge Yulu, a masters student at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, put the street signs on the east and west sections of the street as part of an artwork. But the signs were later recorded by some online maps, according to Beijing Youth Daily.

Ge erected the street signs in 2012 after he found the street was unnamed. The name was accepted by some online maps in 2015, according to a report on Ge at the academy’s website.

The name can still be found on two popular web maps including Baidu Maps and Amap now, the newspaper said.

The street, located in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, is not a long and bustling road and takes about 10 minute’s to walk from one end to the other. A local resident told the newspaper that residents called the street “Ge Yu Lu” (lu is Chinese for “road”) but did not know why it was named that way.

An official at the city planning department said residents were not permitted to name streets personally as this was the job of local governments.

Street signs also could not be erected by individuals and would be torn down when discovered, another official at the Chaoyang district’s department said.

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As usual, opinions on the matter differed online.

“The department didn’t do its job, but don’t want ordinary people do it, either,” someone wrote on Weibo.

“There are many heroes that have contributed to the country and streets should not named by a ordinary person,” another commented sanctimoniously.