Communist Party paper homes in on foreign names on property projects

Practice is confusing for the public and damages China’s cultural legacy, report says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 April, 2016, 7:01am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 3:44pm

The Communist Party’s mouthpiece lashed out on Sunday at the practice of putting foreign names on mainland places, saying it is confusing and undermines China’s cultural traditions.

Rules in place since the mid-1980s ban the naming of residential blocks and other structures after foreigners or foreign places, but the country is dotted with commercial and housing developments such as Palm Springs, Manhattan Garden, Golden Vienna, Mediterranean, Cannes Street and Times Town. Some bus stations are also named after the properties.

Mainland authorities launched a campaign in February to clamp down on the practice and the crackdown is expected to continue until June next year.

People’s Dail y said some developers put foreign names on properties to give the impression that they were “international” and therefore of higher quality.

“This irrational view on internationalisation has led to the runaway use of foreign names,” the report said.

“Commercial promotion is a major force behind this practice.”

Farewell Palm Springs: China to crack down on foreign names for buildings, residential areas to ‘protect culture’

The report said many older residents were not in favour of foreign names.

“I don’t know where those places with foreign names are. What’s more, the foreign names are hard for us to remember or say,” one elderly man was quoted as saying.

Kunming-based historian Zhao Li said abandoning longstanding names for newer foreign ones amounted to cultural destruction, just like the burning of ancient books or buildings, the report said.

“What would a foreign tourist think if a local resident gave his address as Cannes Street or Times Town?” Zhao asked.

This irrational view on internationalisation has led to the runaway use of foreign names
People’s Daily

The report quoted Wang Jie­quan, from Yunnan University’s school of urban construction and management, as saying that many traditional place names ­reflected the area’s geology, ­history and culture.

Minister of Civil Affairs Li Li­guo said last month that some places used foreign names instead of traditional ones to attract good luck, appear more stylish, raise their profile or out of “economic interests”.

A Zhengzhou civil affairs official said Henan province had similar rules on place names but they had failed to stamp out the practice, China National Radio reported. The official said the problem was a lack of effective punishment and the difficulty of changing names already in place.