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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 June 2007, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
China re-think on names shortage
A policeman stands amid crowds in Beijing (file image)
Officials say the prevalence of some names causes confusion
Chinese officials are considering measures to expand the number of surnames in the country in order to prevent confusion, state media says.

At the moment around 85% of China's 1.3bn residents share around 100 surnames, a survey in April by the Ministry of Public Security found.

The most popular name, Wang, is shared by some 93 million people.

Now the ministry wants to give parents the option of combining both surnames for their children, China Daily said.

"If a father's family name is Zhou, and the mother, Zhu, the baby could have four options for the surname: Zhou, Zhu, Zhouzhu or Zhuzhou," the newspaper said.

This could create around 1.28m new surnames, said Guan Xihua, a household registration officer with the Beijing public security bureau.

The prevalence of some surnames caused problems in daily life and more of them would reduce repetition, she said.

In addition to Wang, some 92 million people are called Li, while another 88 million are called Zhang, the survey in April found.

More than 100,000 people share China's most popular name, Wang Tao, another report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences found.

The ministry is now circulating a new draft regulation, that would allow couples to go for the doubled option, to police departments around the country for their comments, the daily said.


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