China to banish “bizarre” foreign place-names

In China you can meet friends at ‘Manhattan Plaza’ and walk past ‘Venice’ and ‘Milan’

In China you can leave your villa in Provence, meet friends at Manhattan Plaza shopping mall, and walk past buildings called Venice or Milan, hardly reflective of Chinese national culture, according to critics. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

In China you can leave your villa in Provence, meet friends at Manhattan Plaza shopping mall, and walk past buildings called Venice or Milan, hardly reflective of Chinese national culture, according to critics. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

 

China is trying to stamp out spiritual pollution when it comes to outlandish foreign names for places, countering the rise in “bizarre” complexes such as Thames Town, Beijing Riviera, Chateau Regalia, Yosemite Villas, Park Avenue, Palm Springs, Napa Valley and Orange County.

The state council, or cabinet, launched a survey in 2014 and the first findings show widespread “chaotic name changing practices”.

Civil affairs minister Li Liguo said the names “damage sovereignty and national dignity, names that violate the socialist core values and conventional morality and names that induce the most public complaints.”

In China you can leave your villa in Provence, meet friends at Manhattan Plaza shopping mall, and walk past buildings called Venice or Milan, hardly reflective of Chinese national culture, according to critics.

Meanwhile, the original names of over 60,000 towns and 400,000 villages have been abandoned in China in the past three decades.

Mr Li has called for place-names that better reflect China’s culture, history and traditions, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Other developments forced to change names will be those that exaggerate their characteristics.

The survey singles out a town which claimed to be the home town of Xi Menqing, a famous seducer from the classical text, The Water Margin, even though the character was a fictional one.

Also, if the town of “Vienna Woods” only has a few trees, or if “Venice Water Town” is a group of houses around a town, the state will expect a more representative name.

During the survey, which will last till 2018, inspectors will check geographical names and related information, give names to places without names, install signs and update the national database and archive with all this new information.