A rule issued last month says new companies cannot register names that are paragraphs or long sentences — which could spell trouble for the likes of What Are You Looking At Shenzhen Technology Co.
SHANGHAI — The Chinese government thinks this company’s name literally goes too far: A Group of Youths in Baoji Holding a Cherished Dream That Under the Leadership of Uncle Niu They Will Create the Miracle of Life Network Technology Co. Ltd.
In the original Chinese, it is 39 characters long. And under guidelines issued this month by China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce, that’s a bit too much of a mouthful.
The rules say new companies cannot register names that are paragraphs or long sentences, or that include sensitive language, including political terms. It also gives the government vague authority to fix “inappropriate” names as it sees fit. But Niu Xiaolu, aka Uncle Niu, is not concerned.
“If I receive notice to shorten the name, I will try to keep it,” said Niu, whose company in Shaanxi makes condoms. “If I cannot, I will fix it according to regulations.”
A number of rules
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Names that discriminate against gender, race or ethnicity are prohibited, too, as are references to terrorism, separatism and extremism. Religious terms, the names of national leaders, illegal organizations and reactionaries are a no-go. And companies cannot use their names to imply they are nonprofit organizations.
The industry and commerce administration said the new rules were “a key step of accomplishing related reform.” A similar state directive last year banned “oversized, xenocentric, weird” architecture.
Yang Wen, head of What Are You Looking At Shenzhen Technology Co., said he did not think his business would run into trouble, despite having a sentence — albeit an unpunctuated one — in its name. The company makes virtual reality hardware.
“’What are you looking at?’ is a casual northern China phrase,” Yang said. “It does not have any problem. This name is easy to remember and fits with our VR glasses products.”
A company called King of Nanning, Guangxi and His Friends Trading Co. Ltd., which operates two Vietnamese restaurants, was singled out on Chinese social media as running afoul of the new guidelines — or perhaps just being “weird.”
Ma Xiaojun, the company’s founder, said it was hard to find a “proper” name, so he chose his based on a friend nicknamed King. He said he didn’t see a problem with founding a business with a less-serious moniker.
“If you look at Western listed companies, there are plenty of names like us,” he said, adding that if authorities asked him to change the name, he would.
Neither Hangzhou Looking for Trouble Internet Technology nor a related business, Hangzhou No Problem If I’m Here Internet Technology Co., could be reached for comment.
Cuts both ways
For Niu, having a long company name cuts both ways. On the one hand, he said, it made payment using WeChat and Alipay impossible — neither system can handle a name of that size.
“We are mostly doing e-commerce, which is almost 100 percent affected by this trouble,” he said.
On the other hand, he added, when he has asked for a receipt using his company name in restaurants, sometimes the staff recognize it and give him a free meal.
In return, Niu said, he gives out boxes of his company’s products.