Chinese Olympic champion hurdler Liu Xiang now has another title to be proud of — his name is shared by another 18,461 of his compatriots, the state media reported. “After Liu won a 110-metre hurdles gold in 2004, there has been a surge of the number of new-born Chinese named after him,” an official with the National Citizen Identity Information Centre said. Among Chinese celebrities, Hong Kong singer Andy Lau (Liu Dehua) shared his name with another 16,974 Chinese, and NBA basketball star Yao Ming ranked the third with 5,597 others sharing the same name.
The government-sponsored centre now keeps a database of more than 1.3 billion citizens’ identity information, almost all of those in the world’s most populous nation.
But Liu’s crowning is as much an annotation to the fame the hurdler enjoys in his country as a demographic embarrassment of the populous nation where names tend to be too short and simple.
“Liu” is a popular Chinese surname and Xiang, with its auspicious literal meaning of “flying”, is a popular character to be used in a name, Xinhua news agency quoted the official as saying.
According to an earlier report of the centre, Zhang Wei (literally Great Zhang), with more than 2,90,000 people with the name in China, was the country’s most popular name choice, followed by Wang Wei of more than 2,81,000.
In an effort to ease the social trouble these Chinese John Smiths have brought about, China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) issued a guidance on naming in early August, allowing the coinage of double-character surnames.