Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on April 3, 2006
Back in the late 1940s, when they took over Shanghai and ended Western domination of the city, one of the first things Mao’s Communists did was purge Shanghai of its colonial era street names. So Shanghai’s Route Cardinal Mercier became Maoming Nan Lu, Bubbling Well Road became Nanjing Xi Lu and Avenue Edward VII became Yanan Dong Lu. (Yanan was the place in China’s Northwest where the Communists were based during World War Two.)
As part of China’s effort to become more of a leader in science and technology, the government is now making a big effort to develop a Chinese presence in Antarctica. This week, a Chinese team is scheduled to complete a four-month tour exploring the southern continent, and the government has big plans to expand its presence there. So it must be especially annoying to China’s proud leaders that the country’s first station in Antartica is located at the tip of the Antarctic Penninsula on (the horror!) King George Island.
Now the Chinese have a plan to put themselves on the Antarctic map. According to the Shanghai Daily, Chinese scientists will be naming 46 newly surveyed Antarctic islands that have up till now have languished in anonymous icy obscurity. And, in the spirit of today’s China, there’s a business angle. China’s Arctic and Antarctica Administration has teamed up with Sina.com, the Nasdaq-listed company that is China’s leading web portal, “to collect candidate names for islands,” reports the Shanghai Daily. Sina and the scientists are encouraging people to suggest names from categories such as “well-known Chinese thinkers, ancient politicians, artists, writers, scientists, mountains, animals and plants.” Ordinary Chinese may not have input into choosing their leaders at home, but when it comes to naming frozen wastelands thousands of miles a way, their voices will be heard.