Hainan orders local businesses to change their names into something less foreign

Society & Culture

The civil affairs office in Hainan has launched (in Chinese) a cleanup campaign to purge local business names deemed “improper” by the local government. In the first notice issued on June 11, more than 84 buildings, including both residential and commercial, were ordered to rename themselves. Over 40 were accused of being too foreign because of the inclusion of Western words in their names.

According to the announcement (in Chinese), names like Victoria Garden (维多利亚花园Wéiduōlìyàhuāyuán) and Olympics Garden (奥林匹克花园 àolínpǐkèhuāyuán) are all in violation of local policy because of their “blind worship of foreign and exotic ideas.” Other names targeted in this initiative include those that “sound feudal” or contain “deliberate exaggeration,” such as Royal Knights Hotel (皇家骑士酒店 Huángjiāqíshìjiǔdiàn) and Pacific Villa (太平洋别墅 Tàipíngyángbiéshù).

The list also includes 15 locations of Vienna Hotels (维也纳酒店 Wéiyěnàjiǔdiàn), one of the largest hotel chains in China. On June 18, the company slapped back in a statement, writing that its name is properly registered with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and is absolutely legal. “We have voiced our disagreement over our appearance on the list,” the company said, adding that it’s waiting for a reply from the Hainan government.

When interviewed (in Chinese) by the Beijing News, a local government official in Hainan explained that the campaign was in compliance with orders from the national civil affairs department, which released a document in January asking provinces to “clear and rectify improper names” of places like residential areas, commercial buildings, and roads. Prior to Hainan, cities like Guangzhou and Xi’an had carried out similar campaigns.

When asked why names that include Western words are specifically targeted, the official said, “We are all about cultural confidence now. Having an English name in China is disrespectful to our culture.”