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China recounts, standardizes place names

Updated: Dec 30,2014 9:00 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — China has began to recount and record the names of the country’s cities, rivers and mountains in a bid to update its geographic database.

The national census of places is aimed at standardizing the use of place names, better serving the people and enhancing the government’s management, the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA), which is in charge of the huge project, said in a statement on Dec 30.

The huge project will target all places and geographic entities, including rivers and mountains, on the Chinese mainland, excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, the statement said.

China conducted the last place name census from 1979 to 1986, recording more than 5.5 million names.

Many names have changed in the past 28 years, but the current geographic database still uses records of old names, according to the statement. Moreover, many new places, such as cities, streets, airports and tourist resorts, have been created while others have vanished during China’s fast modernization.

Some names of places or streets sound “weird” or Western, which makes people feel confused, according to Gong Puguang, deputy minister of civil affairs.

In some areas, the naming of places are redundant and chaotic. For example, a city may have six New Village roads, Gong said.

The census will help authorities correct some “nonstandard” place names and set up clear road and place signs for the people’s convenience.

Places that are known to people but lack an official name will also be officially named and recorded.

The census is scheduled to be completed in June 2018 and the names will be collected into a special place name dictionary.