Dan Kendalls' Fluff

Why do some Chinese shows avoid using real place names?

Source: Interesting Stack Exchange

Toponymy, toponymics, or toponomastics is the study of toponyms (proper names of places, also known as place names and geographic names)


"Hart, the astrophysicist of Country A, committed suicide 13 days ago. Country T is the disaster zone of scientists' suicides."

**Answer: **Censorship. (well, that, and a combination of complications from translation/language)

Yes, it is very common, and even some Chinese are confused by it. And it is not restricted to television, it exists in other forms of media, and also, confusingly, doesn't as well, which adds to the confusion.

(Part of that is, whilst there is a lot of censorship, where there is less, it is on the author to self-censor, should they fall foul of someone who takes offence to having a region or place actually named. With strong online algorithms checking for keywords to trigger the authorities, many find it better to be safe rather than sorry)

The way to get around the censorship, is to read between the lines - the article or author might indicate the language spoken, some cultural specifics, landmarks, etc, then you can work out what they mean.

(Note, however, that with The Three-Body Problem, Chinese sources have said the countries are implicitly labelled in the novel, it's just that when they went to production, they censored it. This leads me on to another issue - when the novel was written, the censorship level was quite a bit different. With the current regime, censorship has skyrocketed, so anything pre-2011 is likely to have 'less' censorship (beyond the usual), and post-2012 is likely to be very heavily censored)

Also, part of the issue of whether to censor is the background or source of the story: Generally, if it is factual - and is not state sensitive - you would get the country name; but if the source story is fiction, then any names/places have to also be fictional.

(Aside from state sensitivity, there is also a cultural aspect, US citizens might not think much of a story having Washington D.C. nuked, but to have Beijing named as being nuked is a major insult, so it becomes 'City B' in 'Country Z' that got zapped)