The southwestern Chinese city of Kunming is forcing developers to change the names of properties deemed too foreign-sounding, saying they debase traditional culture, officials said yesterday.
At least nine developments in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, have changed their names since officials began implementing new guidelines last month. "Paris of the East Plaza," "French Gardens," and "Ginza Office Tower," were among others making the change.
"It's not proper to name these communities with so many weird foreign titles," said an official with the Kunming Urban Planning Bureau, who would only be identified by his surname Xiao.
"We feel obligated to keep our local characteristics," he said.
Foreign sounding names are popular in China, lending a hint of exoticism to cookie-cutter housing developments and office buildings springing up in urban centres. Many are targeted at China's rising middle class, who are better educated and increasingly drawn to foreign travel, culture and ideas.
Kunming first enacted rules against naming developments after foreign places, people, brands or companies in 1997.
Xiao said new guidelines were issued in August to add emphasis following a denunciation of the practice by Kunming Communist Party Secretary Yang Chongyong.
"The fashion for foreign sounding names on buildings is a loss to native culture and reflects poor taste," Yang said in remarks reported by the official Xinhua News Agency. "We must correct this practice immediately."
The August guidelines ordered authorities not to license new developments without name approval. Xiao said officials from a number of government departments would issue recommendations as to whether or not to approve names.
"If developers still continue to use foreign names, their projects won't be allowed to start," Xiao said.
A spokeswoman for Kunming Zhujia Real Estate Co., developer of the "White House Mini District," said the company was following the new rules.
"The old name seemed to suit the project, but I don't think there'll be any effect on sales," said the woman.
She said the development's name had been changed to "Zhujia Shangyu" roughly translated as "Good Living Business Estates."
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