The right to choose baby names

Updated: 2015-04-23 17:03


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JINAN - A disgruntled father finally had his day in court five years after police refused to register the birth of his daughter because of her "unusual name".

Chinese names are usually two or three characters long and include either the maternal or paternal family name.

However, Bei Yan Yun Yi, who is now 6, has no given surname, which is why three public security bureau substations in Jinan, east China's Shandong Province, refused to register her birth.

Her father, Lyu, filed a lawsuit against Yanshan Police on Dec. 17, 2009, on the grounds that he had the right to choose his child's name, and the police had not fulfilled their legal obligation to register her birth.

The police maintain that Bei Yan Yun Yi is not a legitimate name.

The Lixia district people's court in Jinan suspended the hearing in March 2010, citing difficulties over which legal clause applied to the case.

The Civil Law stipulates citizens are entitled to decide, use and change their names according to regulations, as long as they do not "impair the public interest of society".

A judicial interpretation of the law, passed last year, determined the surnames of offspring may differ from their parents if they use the surnames of other relatives, if they take the surname of their adopted parents or if they choose a surname that is "not against social order and custom".

This interpretation meant the case could be reopened.

Lyu said his daughter's name was poetic: Bei (meaning north) was chosen because Shandong is in the north of China; Yan (wild goose) and Yun (cloud) are words frequently used in poetry; and Yi was a character from China's first collection of poetry, the Shijing.

Lyu claims he registered his daughter's birth in another province, although the court in Shandong has been unable to verify this.

A similar case occurred in 2009 after parents in east China's Jiangxi Province named their son Zhao C, with the English letter "C" as his given name. A court ruled they must change his name.

Judgement on Lyu's case will be passed in a few days.