On June 17, Kunming municipal officials decreed that stores and shops with outdoor signs will have to abide by a strict new regulatory regime with several new rules, one of which includes adding an "English-language logo".
According to a Yunnan Net report, the purpose behind the directive to add English-language logos to store signs is to "convenience our foreign friends", and is only relevant to new signs. It is unclear whether the new rule includes billboards and other outdoor ads.
Should a store or shop feel that English does not suit its image, it can alternatively use pinyin, the official Romanization system of the People's Republic of China.
How much this initiative to introduce more English, or at least Roman letters, to signs around Kunming will bolster the city's attempt to project itself as an international city remains to be seen. However, if the current state of English signs around Kunming is anything to go by, the city will need to raise its game.
Today little effort is required to find signage with amusing or confusing English on it around Kunming. Should the new rules be strictly enforced, it is likely that some local businesses will opt for pinyin or the straight-from-the-dictionary translations that are often the source of much of the so-called "Chinglish" found around China.
But it is also likely that some businesses – especially those attempting to attract foreign customers or enhance their international credentials with local consumers – will potentially be willing to pay for a native speaker to help with their English-language image. This raises the prospect of job creation for Kunming's foreign residents in the areas of advertising and marketing.
Despite the risk of a possible citywide flood of Chinglish signs, city planners may be on to something. Internationalization of a city's creative industry is crucial to projecting an international image to visitors from abroad. This has already happened to a substantial degree in Shanghai and Beijing, and is likely to spread throughout China in the coming years.
Years ago, a sign at Kunming's current airport, Wujiaba International Airport, warmly welcomed all "foreign fiends". With the opening of a massive new airport on the horizon and a rise in the number of international visitors to the city expected, Kunming appears to be preparing a new face to show the world.© Copyright 2005-2020 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.