After ‘Weird Architecture,’ China Is Now Going After Foreign Names

March 27, 2016 Updated: March 28, 2016

Chinese cultural authorities have announced plans to crack down on buildings and residences with names that are too “foreign” or “strange,” as reported by state mouthpiece Xinhua. 

Like the recent condemnation of “strange and impractical architecture” publicized by urban planners, the move seems to come as a reaction to the trend of giving housing complexes English or other western names like Merlin Champagne Town, Beijing Rivera, or Chateau Reglalia, to appeal to China’s urban middle class by seeming more cosmopolitan. One suburban residential community in Beijing is flat-outed called “Hometown America.” 

Using names of foreign people or locations is already illegal per a Chinese law promulgated in 1996, according to the Beijing News, but the prohibition is poorly enforced. A 2014 study highlighted the decimation of traditional place names in the face of modern China’s rapid urbanization: since 1986, nearly half a million Chinese village and township names had fallen out of use, the Beijing News reported. 

Li Liguo, head of China’s Ministry of Cultural Affairs, said at a March 22 press conference that overuse of foreign names had undermined Chinese culture, explained that the widespread use of foreign place names was undermining Chinese culture during a press conference on Tuesday, as reported by the South China Morning Post.

“Clearing up westernized names or preserving traditional names would help preserve China’s cultural heritage,” Li said.