As the Chinese language watchdog discourages Chinese to use
unusual characters to name their babies, many new fathers and
mothers turn to sporting celebrities and movie stars to name their
According to the latest datum released by China's Identification
Numbers Search Service Center, 18,462 people share the name with
the reigning world and Olympic 110m hurdles champion Liu Xiang.
On the list of homonyms, Hong Kong movie star Liu Dehua, or Andy
Lau as he is known outside of the Chinese mainland, places second
Chinese actress Fan Bingbing tops the female namesakes with
In China, naming babies isn't an easy job.
To make the names of their children to stand out in Chinese,
many parents have used ancient characters or symbols, a trend that
the State Language Commission discourages.
In an extreme case, a Chinese couple tried to name their baby
"@", saying the common symbol used in email addresses showed their
love for child.
The symbol @ reads "at", which, with a drawn out "T", sounds
something like "ai ta", or "love him", to Mandarin speakers.
China bans names using Arabic numerals, foreign languages and
symbols that don't belong to Chinese ethnic languages.
According to the State Language Commission, sixth million
Chinese are named with ancient characters so obscure that computers
can't recognize them.
A teacher in the Beijing 1st Experimental Elementary School told
the reporter that he had to use the dictionary when he called the
roll on the first school day for grade one students.
"In my class, some names contain characters that fluent speakers
can't read," he said.
The trend of using peculiar names goes side by side with the
practice of naming after celebrities.
Liu Xiang, the most celebrated athlete in China, contains one of
the most popular surnames in China and the lucky word for Chinese -
"Xiang", which means flying, said the Shanghai-based Oriental
Sports Daily while explaining the over 18,000 namesakes with the
"The name of Liu Xiang has become even more popular since the
Shanghai runner won China's first ever Olympic men's athletics gold
medal in 2004," said the newspaper.
Liu is ranked fourth, after Li, Wang and Zhang, in the top 100
Chinese surnames in 2006. About 60 million share the family name
Liu, accounting for 5.83 percent of the Chinese population of 1.3
(Xinhua News Agency September 21, 2007)