Chateau defeat? | New China initiative targets “foreign and bizarre” names

By Jim Boyce | There is a new government initiative aimed at “foreign and bizarre” names in China, reports state-sponsored Xinhua News Agency:

China will stem irregularities in naming the country’s roads, bridges, buildings, and residential compounds, targeting arbitrary uses of foreign and bizarre names, said an official in charge of the ongoing survey of geographical names….

In recent years, many cultural geographical names have disappeared as a result of chaotic name changing practices while residential compounds named after places like Manhattan and Venice have mushroomed.

Beijing has no shortage of residential compounds with foreign names, including Central Park, Park Avenue and Palm Springs all a short distance from where I live, and places such as Yosemite and Riviera further out. There are also some that borrow from the wine world, whether it’s Chateau Edinburgh downtown or the 6,000-home residential compound Chateau Lafite on the edge of the city.

The Xinhua post cites an official as saying that names that “damage sovereignty and national dignity, names that violate the socialist core values and conventional morality and names that induce the most public complaints” will be the prime targets.

All this suggests that the names of wineries aren’t at issue, at least for yet, and the use of chateau, as at Chateau Junding, and bodega, as at Bodega Langes, should be fine. But there is always that possibility such a campaign might expand and thus not only include these but also wine importers, distributors and retails shops with “foreign or bizarre” names such as Zhejiang Latour Trading, Chateau Lafiteville Wine or Sparkle Roll. And where would Shangri-la, a fictional name from a novel, fit?

No doubt, foreign names have often been seen to add cache to a place, with a prime example being a local watering hole called Lafite Bar just behind our apartment. But perhaps in a sign of the times, this place that once lured customers with barbecues, booze and both live music and KTV, recently took down its sign and converted into a Vietnamese restaurant.

lafite bar beijing china.jpg

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