Qingdao has become the first Chinese city to officially declare that its streets shall not have foreign-sounding names.
The coastal city in the eastern Shandong province is prohibiting the use of foreign individuals’ names, nonlocal places, or transliterations of foreign words in the naming of its streets, Qingdao’s civil affairs bureau said Tuesday. The new rule instead encourages names that “reflect local cultural or natural geographical features” and “promote good values such as the Chinese nation’s excellent historical culture, traditional virtues, and socialist core values.”
Qingdao was previously occupied by Germany and Japan, and had street names such as William Road and Maizuru Road, both of which were changed after the city came under Chinese rule. Currently, many of Qingdao’s streets are named after Chinese cities and provinces, including Shanghai, Zhejiang, and Qinghai.
Street signs in Qingdao, Shandong province, 2020. People Visual and CGTN
According to the new rule, names that are “vulgar, with strong feudal colors, or easily misunderstood” should also be avoided when naming streets.
In recent years, Chinese authorities have criticized places or buildings whose names were foreign-sounding or deemed tacky.
In 2018, the Ministry of Education announced that more than 75,000 place names had been changed nationwide because they sounded “too exotic, strange, or hyperbolic.” Last year, authorities in the southwestern city of Kunming also ordered urban planners and real estate developers to avoid “big,” “foreign,” “strange,” or “repetitive” names, while the island province of Hainan slammed Chinese chain Vienna Hotel Group for fostering “a worship of all things foreign” on a list of place names in need of rectification.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: A Tianjin Road street sign in Qingdao, Shandong province, 2020. CGTN)