Mantis Shrimp or Panda? China unleashes storm of ideas for typhoon names
National appeal results in a flood of suggestions inspired by mythical creatures, literary characters and national icons
The Chinese terms for an internet-inspired meme and a national icon are on the shortlist to join China’s pool of typhoon names after meteorologists asked the public for suggestions.
The names of typhoons in the western Pacific are chosen from a list of submissions from 14 countries, with each nation suggesting 10.
China’s National Meteorological Centre (NMC) issued an online call for suggestions this month after it said it was retiring “Haima” – which has been used three times – because of the death and destruction a typhoon with the name wrought on the Philippines and southern China in November.
The appeal was forwarded nearly 100,000 times and attracted more than 44,000 comments and suggestions within a week of it going online.
Food, mythical animals and traditional Chinese medicine were the most common suggestions, but one contributor also offered her ex-boyfriend’s name as something worthy of loathing.
The centre chose three people at random to make three suggestions each, and will winnow the list down to three for final consideration in February by the Typhoon Committee run by the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East and the World Meteorological Organisation.
Mudan (Peony), Xiongmao (Panda) and Xiangyun (Auspicious Cloud) were among those to make the shortlist.
Tianma, or Heavenly Horse, also made the cut because according to mythology it flew away at the sight of a human. “We hope the typhoons will be like Tianma – avoiding people and not bringing disaster,” the centre said.
But Pipixia, or Mantis Shrimp, was the popular choice, inspired by a cyberspace meme of a cartoon character riding a shrimp.
“Pipixia ... had the most support from internet users and attracted the most attention, which is exactly why we held the event. We wanted to spread awareness about typhoons,” the centre said.
One contributor from Sanya said Daiyu, a weakling character from the novel A Dream of Red Mansions, was an appropriate name because every typhoon should be too weak to hit China.
The Japan Meteorological Agency assigns international names to tropical storms in the western Pacific when they have winds of at least 63km/h.
The NMC said Haima had been used three times – in 2004, 2011 and 2016 – and was being replaced because last year’s storm killed eight people in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong.
The last typhoon Chinese contribution to be withdrawn was Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 people in the Philippines in 2013.
Mudan – Peony
Fengling – Wind Chime
Honghu – Wild Goose
Feilian – mythical animal and god of wind
Pipixia – Mantis Shrimp
Xiongmao – Panda
Xiangyun – Auspicious Cloud
Tianma – Heavenly Horse
Mulan – Magnolia