Planet China

What’s in a name?

Dogs are supposed to be man’s best friends, although a friendly response is not what a dog breeder from Fuyang in Anhui province received when he chose the names for two of his animals.

The man, who was trying to sell a couple of dogs on WeChat, said that he had named them Chengguan and Xieguan, two types of municipal official that police low-level crimes and misdemeanours around urban markets.

As we have reported before in WiC, neither profession is much loved in China, especially the chengguan, who are often derided as bullies.

Clearly it’s still a sensitive subject as local police were soon called in to investigate the case. The breeder argued that the names were just a bit of a joke but the local authorities didn’t see the funny side, sending him to a detention centre for 10 days on the grounds he was “picking quarrels and making trouble”, a nebulous charge favoured when an offence is hard to classify. The man had been too provocative on his social media account and “caused great harm to the nation and the city’s urban management, in terms of their feelings,” a police officer told Beijing News.

Netizens were generally unimpressed by the punishment, perhaps because they shared a dim view of the two professions in question. “Can you tell me which law stipulates that dogs can’t be called Chengguan” one asked. “It’s not appropriate to call dogs Chengguan, but is it so serious as to put him in custody?” said another. “What about calling one of the dogs Trump?” suggested a third, in a bid to change the conversation.

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