China Moves to Standardize Place Names With Pinyin System
China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs is seeking public comments on a draft proposal aimed at governing the use of place names throughout the country. The new measures are designed to set a uniform standard for the naming of all geographical locations, potentially impacting everything from street signs to maps and navigation systems.
The draft builds upon the existing Regulation on the Administration of Geographical Names, effective since May 1, 2022, and will seek public feedback until Dec. 8. It includes 24 measures encompassing the standardization of pinyin in place names, the renaming process, and the preservation of naming cultures.
The proposed measures aim to standardize names of various geographical entities, including parks, streets, complexes, major infrastructure projects, and residential communities.
Article 9 of the proposed regulation stipulates a uniform approach to Romanization, mandating that all geographic names in China adhere to the Hanyu pinyin system. This system, which has been the country’s official Romanization method since the 1950s and is recognized internationally, will apply to both proper and common nouns in place names. For example, “road” would be uniformly transcribed as “lu.”
The draft proposal also seeks to address complexities arising from places known by multiple names. It calls for the establishment of a single, definitive name for each location, thereby simplifying processes and reducing confusion for mapping and logistic services.
It also mandates the standardization of characters and tones in cases where there are multiple spellings or pronunciations. The draft states: “Place names provide basic public information in society, act as an important carrier of history and culture, and play an important and fundamental role in economic and social development.”
(Header image: IC)