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Immigration to China: Forename/Surname

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 Message 1 of 6
08 April 2014 at 7:51pm | IP Logged 
Hello people,

when I move to China as an expatriate, can I retain my European forename and my surname in China? I own a German name; which would have 5 characters (given name) and 4 characters (surname)in Mandarin Chinese.. Is it possible to retain such a name or do I have to adopt a shorter sinicized name? Can I born children in China and could those keep my long surname, if that's possible?

With sincerly regards

Edited by Surtalnar on 08 April 2014 at 11:49pm

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 Message 2 of 6
09 April 2014 at 12:30am | IP Logged 
Probably a better question to ask the Consulate / Embassy, than a group of language enthusiasts.

That said, though, depending on what your name is, you might want to consider translating it instead of making a phonetic rendering of it.
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 Message 3 of 6
09 April 2014 at 9:05pm | IP Logged 
If using Hanzi, name+last name combo shouldn't exceed 6 characters.
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 Message 4 of 6
10 April 2014 at 9:18pm | IP Logged 
Medulin wrote:
If using Hanzi, name+last name combo shouldn't exceed 6 characters.
Does this not apply to Uyghurs?
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 Message 5 of 6
11 April 2014 at 3:05am | IP Logged 
From what I've seen on the Internet, some people changed their names to a nickname that has nothing
to do with their original name or making their names sound Chinese. 2 names came to mind: Mark
Rowswell the Canadian who became an actor. He adopted the name 大山 Dàshān (Big Mountain). The
other is a singer from W. Africa Emmanuel Uwechue who became 好歌 Hǎogē (Good Song). The third is a
singer in Japan who emigrated from the US as Jerome White. He adopted a simplified version of his first
name as JERO ジェロ spelled phonetically.

There is an actor & singer in Hong Kong with the name Corinna Chamberlain 陳明恩 with a father from
New Zealand. People in Hong Kong would call her Corinna unless a person doesn't know any English. In
the Chinese version she adopted the last name Chan 陳 is a condensed version of Chamberlain. The
father's adopted Chinese name is 陳百崙 Can4 Baak3 Leon4 (by matching the phonetics for Chamberlain)
without his first name. Another HK actor from Australia with the name Gregory River who adopted the
Chinese name 河國榮 Ho Kwok Wing. 河 is Chinese for his last name River. 國榮 is the given name he
chose because he used to sing pop songs by 張國榮 and picked the same given name.

Depends on whether or not you would stay as a permanent resident or eventually be given full-
citizenship, you may still be keeping a passport from your original country with the original name. The
Chinese may give you a name in Chinese characters based on your first, middle, last names or any
combination in between or you may adopt a Chinese name that is totally different like a nickname. They
would probably allow you to keep the original version in the Western alphabet.

Edited by shk00design on 11 April 2014 at 3:08am

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 Message 6 of 6
11 May 2014 at 1:41pm | IP Logged 
Yes, your children will retain your surname. The processes are different for every country, but generally you
will be filing a report of birth at the nearest consulate or embassy, submitting your locally obtained birth
certificate which will have your own surname. This report of birth will be your child's birth certificate and basis
for his or her passport.

Don't count on getting Chinese citizenship. Not only is it very infrequently given, you may not want it for your
children anyway. Furthermore, China does not allow dual or multiple citizenship.

Do think of your Chinese name ahead of time, unless you don't mind being hastily given one without much
preponderance. You will be needing one in any case for practicality, whether you will be using it on any
official documents or not, It doesn't necessarily have to sound anything like your actual name, but some
people do elect to use Chinese names that sound approximate to their actual names. If you are not yet
familiar with Chinese, it would be good to discuss this with a native speaker or someone very familiar with

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