New Survey Reorders 100 Most Common Chinese Names

January 20, 2006 Updated: January 20, 2006

According to a Mingpao News report, the most common surnames in China have changed from Zhao, Qian, Sun and Li, as noted in the Chinese classic, “The Hundred Chinese Surnames.” The most common Chinese surnames now are: Li, Wang, Zhang, Liu and Chen.

The new order is as follows: Li, Wang, Zhang, Liu, Chen, Yang, Huang, Zhao, Zhou, Wu, Xu, Sun, Zhu, Ma, Hu, Guo, Lin, He, Gao, Liang, Zheng, Luo, Song, Xie, Tang, Han, Cao, Xu, Deng, Xiao, Feng, Zeng, Cheng, Cai, Peng, Pan, Yuan, Yu, Dong, Yu, Su, Xie, Lu, Wei, Jiang, Tian, Du, Ding, Shen, Jiang, Fan, Jiang, Fu, Zhong, Lu, Wang, Dai, Cui, Ren, Liu, Liao, Yao, Fang, Jin, Qiu, Xia, Tan, Wei, Jia, Zou, Shi, Xiong, Meng, Qin, Yan, Xue, Hou, Lei, Bai, Long, Duan, Hao, Kong, Shao, Shi, Mao, Chang, Wan, Gu, Lai, Wu, Kang, He, Yan, Yin, Qian, Shi, Niu, Hong, Gong.

The survey and research took two years to finish and was conducted by Yuan Yida, a researcher from the Institute of Genetic and Developmental Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The survey covers 1,110 counties and cities with a total population of 296 million and includes a total of 4,100 surnames. The most recent ordering of the 100 most common surnames was obtained by doing a statistical analysis of population proportions among county, area and province. The researcher will also publish a list of 300 surnames and their distribution map and edit the latest dictionary of the Chinese surnames that will include 23,000 existing surnames. Such a dictionary will illustrate the cultural development of surnames.

“The Hundred Chinese Surnames,” a well-known and influential classic, was written during the early Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) by a scholar in Hangzhou. It lists all the common surnames and rhymes in four character couplets for easing reading and memorizing; 540 surnames were collected in “The Hundred Chinese Surnames,” 444 of them being single-character names and the rest having multiple characters.