Police in the Jiading District of Shanghai have started using the internet to help people name their newborns.
Specifically, they are helping people find unique names for their babies, which is tricky–China has 1.3 billion people, many of them share a handful of very common surnames, and the country has been cracking down on unique names in recent years.
Wang Xi, 31, tried the new service yesterday. He sent a message to the official microblog of Jiading District Public Security Bureau, including his ID information and two names he prepared for his baby.
In the afternoon he received a reply from Jiading police, saying the name Wang Xiaomao has been used by 133 people and the name Wang Damao has been used by 21 people in Shanghai.
“The service is incredible,” Wang said.
The article stated that many expectant parents “go to local police bureaus to check the number of people sharing the same name they picked for their newborn baby.” So consulting police records is apparently nothing new, but doing so via the internet is.
(The article also included a related fact that was new to me: “Chinese citizens can use a name made up of two to six characters.”)