BBC BLOGS - James Reynolds' China
« Previous | Main | Next »

Your top 10

Post categories:

James Reynolds | 10:21 UK time, Monday, 9 June 2008

Ok - so you've given me more than a hundred names to think about! Politicians, singers, writers, dissidents, separatists, entrepreneurs, scientists, comedians, writers, doctors, sportspeople.

I've gone through all of your suggestions and have come up with the list below. I stress that this is deeply unscientific and probably quite arbitrary. I've tried to make it more a list of the 10 Chinese people you should know about - as opposed to the 10 most famous people from China.

Here are the 10 names (in no particular order)...

Hu JintaoHu Jintao - politician. China's president. Hu Jintao rules over more people - 1.3bn - than any single person has ever done in the history of the world. He'll be in charge of China for another five years (he's expected to be succeeded by another man you might want to remember - Xi Jinping).

Wen Jiabao - politician. China's premier. Took the lead in the response to the recent earthquake. A very popular man in China and a fascinating figure. He worked with reformers in the 1980s - and survived the political purges after the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989.

Yao Ming - basketball player. Probably the most immediately recognisable Chinese person alive (mostly because he is 7ft 6in). Yao Ming plays basketball for the Houston Rockets of the NBA. Expect him to play a major role in the Olympics (he may even be the athlete who lights the flame to mark the start of the games).

Liu XangLiu Xiang - athlete. China's great hope for this summer's Olympic Games. The entire country expects him to do what he did in Athens 2004 - win the gold in the 110m hurdles. If he does, he can probably get the country renamed after him.

Yuan Longping - scientist. In the 1970s he developed a hybrid rice that has since had a huge effect on world food supplies. This super rice has a higher yield than normal rice - the extra yield has been able to feed tens of millions of people.

Yang Liwei - astronaut. In 2003, he became China's first man into space. I've picked him not necessarily because he's famous, but because he represents the kind of ambition that China has for its future.

Li Ning - sportsman and entrepreneur. He won three gold medals as a gymnast at the 1984 Olympics and then founded his own sportswear company. Wherever you go in China, you see people wearing clothes bearing the distinctive Li Ning signature.

Zhang ZiyiZhang Ziyi - actress. Star of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha. Fierce debates here as to whether she should have been picked over Gong Li. But my colleagues suggest Zhang Ziyi just shades it.

Li Jiacheng - businessman. The richest Chinese person in the world (Forbes ranks him the 11th richest person in the world.) Thought to be worth more than $26bn, his business interests include banking, real estate, construction, plastics etc

Zhang Yimou - film director. Directed films such as Raise the Red Lantern, and House of Flying Daggers. One of the most influential figures in the world of Chinese cinema. For this reason he beats out more famous cinematic figures such as Jackie Chan and Jet Li.

That's the list. Not definitive by any means - but I've picked the names entirely from your suggestions.

There is one more person that many of you have come up with - a man who is more famous in the UK than everyone else on this list combined. I'll let penguish have the final word: "If China is claiming Tibet as its own, then the Dalai Lama is certainly the most famous Chinese person alive!"

Comments

or register to comment.

  • 1. At 12:50pm on 09 Jun 2008, yjchen wrote:

    Surprised to learn you spelled the richest Chinese's name wrong, it should be Li Ka-shing, instead of Li Jiacheng. Not every Chinese spelled their name in Mandarin, which is a twisted but institutionalised Chinese dialect.

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 1:31pm on 09 Jun 2008, Cantab wrote:

    Dont worry about what yjchen said (and I suspect you won't).

    I think it's a wonderful list. :)

    good job James.

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 1:36pm on 09 Jun 2008, Cantab wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 2:06pm on 09 Jun 2008, thhan279 wrote:

    Zhang Ziyi definitely does represent China. She is more like an internationalist. After all, she no longer resides in China but the USA. Gong Li is China.

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 2:40pm on 09 Jun 2008, Lightsoutbritain wrote:

    To #1 yjchen:

    James has spelled it right.

    If we spell the Chinese names in local dialects, such as Cantonese, there will just be chaos and confusion.

    Cantonese is only one of the thousands of different Chinese local dialects, and it is meant to be used locally only. Just because he is a Cantonese, does not mean that his name should not be spelled in standard Chinese, which is Mandarin.

    Mandarin is not a local dialect, it is the national standard, and it represents the Chinese official.

    So, James spelling is 100% perfectly right!

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 3:05pm on 09 Jun 2008, bigson_wu wrote:

    Does Dalai Lama agreed that he is a chinese? well, according to what he said and did, i think he is the person who is trying sell "his" tibetan to the western world. He should be in the most hated list among chinese.

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 4:02pm on 09 Jun 2008, cambridgestuart wrote:

    I suppose the Dalai Lama would not accept that he was 'Chinese' because he argues for, slow and democratic or otherwise, an independent Tibet.

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 4:54pm on 09 Jun 2008, RecruitGal wrote:

    Mr Li refers to himself as Li Ka-shing.

    I would have thought the polite thing would be to use his preference.

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 4:58pm on 09 Jun 2008, henry_cheung wrote:

    yjchen raised a very interesting issue.
    I think for some famous, the spell of their names is fixed and we should use the name that people used to call them.
    For example, many westerners will know who Eileen Chang is instead of Zhang Ailing.

    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 4:58pm on 09 Jun 2008, TyphoonHunter wrote:

    I have to say I do not envy Liu Xiang and the pressure he must be under ahead of the Olympics. It would be great to see him win gold especially since he's not a product of the state run "athlete farms." (My own phrase to describe the crazy ordeal many Chinese athletes have undergone from a very young age to become successful Olympians.) He seems like a great bloke (I know people who have worked with him and attest to that) who has sacrificed so much for a sport he genuinly loves.

    Since you became the Beijing correspondant I now get regular messages from people at work, family members etc saying they heard me on the radio or saw my report. Funny considering we don't look or sound like each other!

    Great list and keep up the good work! Regards from the other James Reynolds in China (based in Shanghai.)



    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 6:28pm on 09 Jun 2008, buaadallas wrote:

    I'll let penguish have the final word: "If China is claiming Tibet as its own, then the Dalai Lama is certainly the most famous Chinese person alive!"
    ----------------------------------------------------
    It's wrong, Dalai Lama is famous just because his advocation for independence of Tibet, and the western countries love everyone who beat against China. So....
    But In China, Dalai Lama is the most disgusting people.

    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 7:02pm on 09 Jun 2008, jeffinvade wrote:

    Dalai Lama is not only the most famous chinese among the westeners, he is also the only chinese national won Nobel prize.

    I believe one day our chinese government will learn it is useless to suppress tibetan from loving their leader, but to accept the political reality. In order to stop tibetans from splitting our country, we have to win over their heart, obviously not by telling them to hate dalai lama.

    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 7:22pm on 09 Jun 2008, Martindemars wrote:

    no ...way!

    any list that has Zhang yimou and zhang ziyi on is not from Chinese view. Seriously, in china, they are neither most famous nor widerly popular. They just happen to fit the western people's oritental dream.

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 8:42pm on 09 Jun 2008, hizento wrote:

    Its a pity James Reynolds has left out Jackie Chan and Jet Li, both are far more famous than actress Zhang Zhiyi and everyone else combined in the list (Jackie is however HK Chinese) and infinately more famous than Dalai Lama even here in the UK.
    Perhaps because Dalai is a polticians Mr Reynold from a political circle himself feels compelled more towards political activist who in all intenets helps pays his wages.
    Did you know not many people knows Dalai Lama's real name? It is like saying "here is the king of Ruritania" without know what he is.

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 8:45pm on 09 Jun 2008, marty42 wrote:

    James
    Thanks for the blog which is very interesting. - good that the blog is attracting illuminating comments from Chinese people.

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 10:14pm on 09 Jun 2008, KrSund70 wrote:

    I have to agree with thhan279: Gong Li is more "China" than Zhang Ziyi. Zhang Ziyi is Zhang Yimou's new/modern "Gong Li." The problem is that all of Chang Yimou's modern films pander to the West's desire for Hidden-Tiger-Crouching-Dragon-esque special effects, fighting, and story-lines of fantasy and mystique.

    Zhang Yimou was at his best when he made films such as Qiu Ju Da Quan Si, Not One Less, The Long Road Home, and my personal favorite -- To Live. These films are social commentary on life in China relevant to the modern era, and these films (save for The Road Home), are Gong Li films. The more he panders to Western money and film festivals, the less Zhang Yimou's films are relevant and exciting to people like me today. I, for one, want his Chinese films back.

    He's no fan of the Party, as you can tell from his films. But they touch you in a way that shows deep love of China, the Chinese people, and the Chinese experience in life.

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 11:17pm on 09 Jun 2008, thompeg wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 18. At 00:38am on 10 Jun 2008, londonlurker wrote:

    "If China is claiming Tibet as its own, then the Dalai Lama is certainly the most famous Chinese person alive!"
    This is a trick westerners always do.
    First,it is not that China is claiming Tibet as its own, it's that Tibet is de facto part of china. Even Dalai Lama supports the unity of Tibet and mainland China. (who doesn't know, check the beloved BBC pls.)
    Second, not everyone ethnically Chinese is a Chinese. Would you call Lee Kuan Yew(singapore) a Chinese in this case? Dalai Lama is a traitor of people's republic of China. He was the leader of an anti-government uprising and committed treason. Now he is a man without homeland. He is ethnically Tibetan, which is ethnically Chinese. But he is not Chinese anymore.

    If you James, who graduated from Cambridge,can't get around that logic, you are either doing that on purpose, or you are doing that deliberately.

    Complain about this comment

  • 19. At 02:38am on 10 Jun 2008, kosakosa wrote:

    It entirely depends on what your definition of famous is. Hitler was a cruel dictator, but he was famous. Just as the Dalai Lama is famous, but he does not bring positive effects to China, as it is common for a famous person to bring good publicity and pride to their country of origin. There is too many outstanding Chinese people in the world, it would be impossible to condense all of their work and fame into just 10 people.

    Complain about this comment

  • 20. At 03:13am on 10 Jun 2008, masupra wrote:

    It's a good list. But I personally feel there are too many celebrities/artists. JMHO.

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 04:56am on 10 Jun 2008, bluejeansbj wrote:

    Cambridgestuart said "I suppose the Dalai Lama would not accept that he is 'Chinese"...". Well, the truth is, he does. He claims to be a Chinese citizen, and calls the PRC central government his "boss".

    But nice list, James!

    Agree that Zhang Ziyi overshadows Gong Li - it is cruel to say so but Gong Li is a bit old now.

    Also as the annotate to Zhang Yimou you probably can add that he is the man that made both Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi......

    Complain about this comment

  • 22. At 06:44am on 10 Jun 2008, jiu3gui3 wrote:

    I must remind you that even the Dalai Lama also declared Tibet was one part of China.

    BTW, you are in China now and may contact with Chinese frequently. Did you find anyone who thought the Dalai Lama was the most important man to be remembered? Actuallly most of Chinese can't accept his theory/control about Tibet.
    Maybe you don't want to listen but it's the fact. For Chinese, the dalai lama is the tiny role.

    Maybe there are some issues left about Taiwan, but there is no Tibet issue.

    It's common sense that Tibet is one part of China since Yuan Dynasty.

    Complain about this comment

  • 23. At 10:33am on 10 Jun 2008, kenchamwu wrote:

    Whether the Dalai Lama believes he is Chinese or not is his own personal preference. However, since all nations recognize Tibet as part of China, he is Chinese (albeit a treasonous one). He could personally give up his Chinese citizenship and apply for Indian citizenship if he so prefers (or other citizenships, for that matter, similar to other people who change their citizenships), but as long as he considers himself a Tibetan, then he is Chinese.

    Complain about this comment

  • 24. At 10:36am on 10 Jun 2008, Cantab wrote:

    "I suppose the Dalai Lama would not accept that he was 'Chinese' because he argues for, slow and democratic or otherwise, an independent Tibet."


    Incorrect. I will therefore reference several occasions in recent times when the Dalai Lama has strengthened his postion as someone who wants religious and cultural autonomy under Chinese rule.

    The Dalai Lama said in an interview with the South China Morning Post "We are willing to be part of the People's Republic of China, to have it govern and guarantee to preserve our Tibetan culture, spirituality and our environment." He had already said he would accept Chinese sovereignty over Tibet but insisted on real autonomy over its religious and cultural life. The Tibetan government-in-exile called on the Chinese government to respond.[1] The move was seen to be unpopular with some Tibetans in exile, particularly among the younger generation.[1]

    [1] Spencer, Richard. "Tibet ready to sacrifice sovereignty, says leader", The Daily Telegraph, 2005-03-15. Retrieved on 2007-08-01.

    Complain about this comment

  • 25. At 11:19am on 10 Jun 2008, jiu3gui3 wrote:

    Seems you didn't recognise the important role of Wen jia bao until recent earth quake.

    Actually he always stands up first to response all kinds of emergencies such as flood,snowstorm,etc. That's the reason why he gained the most popular support from common people. Different from the traditional aggressive politicians, he shows another qualities, mildness, easygoingness and capabilities of dealing with complex issues.


    Complain about this comment

  • 26. At 12:16pm on 10 Jun 2008, drmarkmark wrote:

    Being older than most of you. I have to say this.
    Zhang Zi yi to be the ten Chinese one has to know ?? must be kidding, what sort of importance has Zhang got? My God, if that was it, Macdonna will be the top 10 Westerner anyone has to know?
    Macdonna would be the end of the queue, and Zhang has not even achived 10% of what Macdonna has done.

    I like the Chinese Chen Jin, he wins my heart. Yao Ming, well, I have to see.

    Mr Reynolds will be laughing, is these the Standard, as if he was marking his student's assignment.

    And one still argued about Li Ka Shing, most of his life, Li Ka shing is known as Li Ka Shing, who ever advocated this mandarin superioirity is exactly the posion that posion Chinese , Hans and Tibetans, if not the westerners, Jewish or Muslims....

    At one end, you blame no one pays any respect to Chinese feelings and complaint against the Frenchmen, ( while longing for the LVs), at the otherend, many Chinese would not tolerate a slightly different presentation (in this case, his very own name, even within the country.)

    The only name Li Ka Shing would like to be called is the name called by his mother, 9 most likely some Southern Chinese Dialect; I do not think this Li Jia cheng is anywhere endorsed by the person himself, ( although he may not object to it, should this be the proper mandarin translation, but please do not impose it on others and get angry if others merely spells it in his own home town way.

    Since most of you are Uni students, Do you think you deserve a pass in the Fair test?

    Complain about this comment

  • 27. At 1:28pm on 10 Jun 2008, UKJDouglas wrote:

    I think some commentors haven't quite grasped what this list is really about. It must be stressed that this isn't a list of the most important, most famous or infamous Chinese people alive today.

    This is just a list of people that Mr Reynolds has chosen from all the people submitted to him, a list of Chinese that most people worldwide should recognise.

    This would mean that Ziyi Zhang is there rather than Gong Li, as Ziyi Zhang has made more international films and therefore more people should know who she is. Whether or not she is better or worse, more or less famous than Gong Li within China is irrelevant in this case, as worldwide Ziyi Zhang is more easily recognised.

    The president and the premier are obviously well known in China, but they should also be well known around the world, which is not necessarily the case and James here is doing his part to help with that.
    Nice list, in a global sense these probably should be the most recognised Chinese people.

    Complain about this comment

  • 28. At 1:33pm on 10 Jun 2008, antimatterbomb wrote:

    Oh it's a boring list (not Mr Reynolds' fault though). i agree with drmarkmark that the standard to make your name into it seems very low, no one really is influential enough nowadays-but perhaps that's a good thing?

    There’s nothing wrong with spelling Li Ka Shing's name in either mandarine or cantonese. But i feel a growing arrogant attitude among some young Chinese people that they think the Chinese representation should be standardized according to the predominant culture (which is Han) from the dialect we speak to the Chinese characters we use for writing. They even think that Han culture is superior to others and the 5000 yr history of china was entirely created by Han, other non-Han groups just came to seek protection from us, and all our suffering in the past were caused by invasion from other races (or some minority ethnic groups in china). They get angry if you ever try to represent yourself in a ‘non-Han’ way internationally and accuse you of denying your Chinese identity.

    Hey, wasn’t it the diverse culture of 56 ethnic groups together with our unity make what we are as ‘Chinese’ today in the 1st place? Now you wonder why some Tibetans and Uyghurs are fighting for independence? Yes some evil foreign power is definitely masterminding it back-stage, but it is this deeply imbedded arrogance and disrespect to other cultures among (some) Han helped them to gain their ground. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m 75% Han and the only Chinese dialect I can speak is mandarine.

    Complain about this comment

  • 29. At 1:54pm on 10 Jun 2008, EWONGNL wrote:

    I don't have complete list for top 10.

    However, as I said previously, ask ANYONE in any corner in the world, here in UK or Sudan or Argentina, regardless his/her background, who is the most popular/famous living Chinese.
    There is only 1 answer most likely given 5 seconds:

    JACKY CHEN !

    DL is not PRC citizen, thus should not be in the list, unless you mean by ethnically Chinese worldwide included.

    And again it is famous top 10, not notorious top 10. Alse each country's top 10 will be mostly consisted of political activists. Likewise it is the same ridiculous asking Saudis who are their national top choices, suggesting exsiled Osama Bin Laden tops the list.

    Complain about this comment

  • 30. At 3:05pm on 10 Jun 2008, fromnewengland wrote:

    In reponse to comment #17:

    hey, Thompeg. His Holiness was indeed holy especially when he was elected as the vice chairman of the Chinese congress. He now still calls himself a citizen of PRC. So please be respectful. I fell His Holiness is definitely more open-minded than you are.

    Complain about this comment

  • 31. At 3:20pm on 10 Jun 2008, pinkpiggyue wrote:

    I think there are another two politicians should be known as well, the former PM Zhu Rongji, and the former Vice PM Wu Yi, though both of them are off the sight of public after their service.
    Zhu is a very skilled politician, and probably one of the few leaders in the Communist Party that really understand economics. His hard work ethic, strict administration, tough on corruption, as well as his humour gained him great respect and popularity within the Chinese public, which set up a very high bar for his followers.
    Wu is known as the first woman achieved the political position as high as Vice PM. She also has a tough style; people call her the ‘iron lady of China’. She played an important role in the negotiation of China’s entry into WTO.
    None of the top 10 is a writer or critic. Sadly there is no influential critic in China probably after Lu Xun, who is also the founder of Baihua literature.
    Another person worth to know is Gao Yaojie, a gynecologist and AIDS activist. She is one of many activists keep working on their belief even under pressure from the local government. She is a representitive of general Chinese people, they are virtuous, hard working, gritty and self sacrifice.

    Complain about this comment

  • 32. At 3:58pm on 10 Jun 2008, yl5308 wrote:

    I reckon Ma Yun( jack ma) should represents a generation of entrepreneurs in China, who has charisma that older entrepreneurs or political leaders don't have.

    Complain about this comment

  • 33. At 4:06pm on 10 Jun 2008, ilovenanjing wrote:

    Surely everyone must recognise that Jackie Chan is the most famous Chinese on the planet. And do you really think that all Chinese are aware of the Dali Lama. I suppose you must also think that every Chinese knows who the Pope is, right? For that matter; do you know who the Pope is?

    Complain about this comment

  • 34. At 6:20pm on 10 Jun 2008, toughbilili wrote:

    28. At 1:33 pm on 10 Jun 2008, antimatterbomb wrote:

    " i feel a growing arrogant attitude among some young Chinese people that they think the Chinese representation should be standardized according to the predominant culture (which is Han) from the dialect we speak to the Chinese characters we use for writing. They even think that Han culture is superior to others and the 5000 yr history of china was entirely created by Han..."

    ---------------

    I am not Han but a Chinese ethnic minority. But I want to tell you that your views are inaccurate. I never met any Chinese youth who think Han culture is superior. Instead many of them are fascinated by Western culture. It is true Mandarin Chinese (also known as Han Yu) is the standarized language but minority languages appear on Chinese money and some minority languages like Tibetan are taught in schools in China, which is more than you can say for countries like the US where only English and Latin is on the currency and where Native American languages are not taught in schools. Having a standardized language does not mean minority languages will be undermined, it is just to make communication easier and many Chinese can speak both Mandarin along with their own local and/or ethnic dialect.

    Also, if you study Chinese history and culture in depth, you will see that traditional Han Chinese culture values humility, benevolence, unity, truth, and stability. If you are 75% Han as you claimed, you are hurting yourself by slandering the Han people and by suggesting that the Han people are arrogant and intolerant, which is far from the truth.

    Complain about this comment

  • 35. At 8:39pm on 10 Jun 2008, fairreport wrote:

    It does not make any sense to argue whether Dalai Lama is a Chinese or not. Although he has been lying to get the West's support, and the West want to have a figure like him to create more trouble for China(it is naive to think US invaded Iraq to free Iraqis, FREE OIL PIPE rather), in the West's philosiphy, the national interest is the only goal of foreign policy.

    If there is no Dalai Lama, the West governments and media will create another person that can be used to contain China, and he/she will be the most famous person in the West.

    Although Dalai Lama has the West's support to achieve his and the West's political goals, nothing can be changed. The West will not send troops to China anyway right - China is not that easy to be beaten (if it is beatable at all), the loss will be much much higher than gains, the West will not do a losing money deal.

    Complain about this comment

  • 36. At 9:04pm on 10 Jun 2008, runonce wrote:

    I can only recognize Yuan Longping as one if you say who will be remembered as time passes. The rule is simple, Who ever benefit people the most.

    Complain about this comment

  • 37. At 10:48pm on 10 Jun 2008, YiXin921 wrote:

    As a native Chinese before I came UK I had no idea who Dalai Lama is and also I even couldnt undersatnd the difference between Banchan Lama and Dalai Lama. The reason is just because Tibet is not point to care about within China. Tibet issue is just a problem that westners tried to produce to embarrass China,which obviously just infuriated 1.3 billion people.
    As far as I know, Dalai Lama is the people who is most nauseous in China or probably say that he is the best actor trained by westners. So I think he definitely shouldnt be in the famous top 10 list. I really feel uncomfortable when I hear this name.
    Actually DaLai Lama and Banchan Lama have the same position in Tibetan's mind as spiritual leaders of Tibet. The difference is just that Banchan Lama is supposed to be in the national Capital,Beijing,and Dalai Lama is supposed to be in the provincial Capital,Lahsa, which as a policy was made several hundreds years ago by the central government of China, at the same time the central government bestowed a flag to Tibet which is just the one anti-China protesters used to embarrass China. But actually the meaning of this flag is that Tibet should always submit to the central government as a part of China. So when I saw those westners waving this flag and saying "free Tibet" I just felt how ignorant and ridiculous they were. Today differently with Dalai Lama, Banchan Lama is young, handsome and patriotic and he cares about religion rather than politics. As a result the native Tibetans(not descendants of exiled Tibetans who were educted by westners) support Banchan Lama strongly and contrastively they do not want to talk about Dalai Lama because they think Dalai Lama is a shame of Tibetans.
    So, behind the political shows of Dalai Lama there are many many more important facts about Tibet that westners should know but west governments do not want people to know.

    Complain about this comment

  • 38. At 00:35am on 11 Jun 2008, mrlim2008 wrote:

    Hey James,

    that is a good list, since your target audience is pretty much an international crowd, and I think the names reflect the range of Chinese people who should be known on the international stage.

    Two points:

    1. I do think Li Jiacheng is better known as Li Ka-Shing. I did a double take before realising who you were referring to. (I am Chinese but not from China.) Maybe I'm the exception...

    2. Jackie Chan could possibly be the 11th name, if this was a Top 11 list.

    PS: Is it possible to make this into a news report on BBC world? It would be really interesting.

    Complain about this comment

  • 39. At 00:52am on 11 Jun 2008, bizcrystal wrote:

    ok, this may not be approved by the moderator...
    anyhow.
    James, where did you get your hair cut??? done by a chinese hair stylist i guess... because it looks so... on you! LOL

    Complain about this comment

  • 40. At 04:19am on 11 Jun 2008, tkbutt wrote:

    Firstly, ethnicity and nationality are 2 separate things. In China, one could be ethnic Han, Hui, Zhang, Uygur, or even Russian. Large numbers of ethnic Indians and Nepalis also exist in Hong Kong, which by proxy makes them Chinese nationals also. I notice in the previous post someone mentioned Michelle Yeoh as one of the top 10 Chinese. She may be Chinese in ethnicity, but she is a Malaysian by nationality. Perhaps James was not clear as to whether this list is ethnicity based or nationality based, but either way he has made us thinking and talking, which is always a good thing.

    Secondly, the right of writing or pronouning a person's name belongs to that person. Hence, the spelling of Lee Ka Shing is correct as that's how he addresses himself as.

    Thirdly, who will be the "face" of Tibet after the passing of Tenzin Gyatso - a.k.a. the 14th Dalai Lama? His deputies are nowhere as iconic or charismatic as HH himself, and the 15th Dalai Lama will not assert significant influence for at least several decades after his passing. I think that this seat will lose its relevance and credibility after his death, as this seat, along with that of the Panchen Lama, will be claimed by two different camps - one from the CCP, and the other one from the Tibetan government-in-exile. No doubt this is exactly what the CCP hopes will eventuate.

    Complain about this comment

  • 41. At 06:06am on 11 Jun 2008, drmarkmark wrote:

    I am free this morning.
    Reading all these students posting makes me know more about this generation' overseas chinese students' mind.
    What would be the 10 American ( or British subject) one has to know?
    if the list included Bush, well, OK, but who else?Neil Armstrong?, a film star call ? Sharon Stone, and argue that Tom Hanks is more important, ( who knows GongLi , really, and (not knowing Orson Wells )
    And perhpas Soros is an Hungarian and so he should have an Hungarian name ? So does Frank Sinatra ( an Italian American? may be he was Franado Sinatriano. )

    At the end, the scientist Yuan Long Ping? feeds most people. I think he only speaks Hunan dialect? ( But do you know the name of the Austrian Monk who found genetic ( engineering) ?
    Yang Li Wei is a brave man, but can Armstrong make it to the top 10 American?
    Zhang Chiyi is good enough or done enough to make into top 10 ? Is this all you have to sell? I am happy with Unlce Tim. the Chinese take away chef.
    wonder who is laughing.
    just to balance the unnecessary self centre
    unilateral thinking.

    Complain about this comment

  • 42. At 08:08am on 11 Jun 2008, _marko wrote:

    Can you add photos for the other 7 people in the list?

    Complain about this comment

  • 43. At 09:05am on 11 Jun 2008, cambridgestuart wrote:

    In response to #31:

    "I think there are another two politicians should be known as well, the former PM Zhu Rongji, and the former Vice PM Wu Yi, though both of them are off the sight of public after their service."

    Do you not think for the same reason Jiang Zemin should be in the top ten or at least more recognized.

    In response to #24:

    "Incorrect. I will therefore reference several occasions in recent times when the Dalai Lama has strengthened his postion as someone who wants religious and cultural autonomy under Chinese rule."

    Thank you for letting me and other readers of such reports, I was led to assume that the Dalai Lama wished to slowly develop Tibet into an independent state through autonomy, in the same way Hong Kong is trying to develop more democracy over time, through autonomy.

    Complain about this comment

  • 44. At 12:38pm on 11 Jun 2008, pinkpiggyue wrote:

    In response to 43:

    No, I don't think so.
    I chose Zhu and Wu base on their strong and tough political image and achievement (especially Wu as a woman), as well as their contribution to our nation. Unfortunately, I do not think Jiang Zemin fit the profile.
    Anyhow, this is a totally personal opinion.

    Complain about this comment

  • 45. At 2:47pm on 11 Jun 2008, sneerDalai wrote:

    James, I largely agree with the ten you have picked. However, you must give the No. 1 place to His Highness The Dailai Lama because :
    (1) He is a Chinese as has been declared by himself in many occasions. (2) He is definitely the most famous living Chinese at the moment, much more famous than anyone in your list especially in the western countries. (3) what he has achieved so far is beyond anyone's grasp, actually unthinkable to our layfolks. He has been awarded a Nobel price for peace although he was a former slave-owner and a separatist; he has been maintained his dignity while being used as an anti-China tool for so long time; he has successfully exhibited himself as an angel before the western world and fooled the majority of the western people; he has been winning the international public relation manipulation since his fleeing from his homeland; etc.

    Complain about this comment

  • 46. At 11:02pm on 11 Jun 2008, CS-Yang wrote:

    Very interesting! You said that Dalai Lama is more famous in UK than everyone else on you list combined.

    I have no doubt about it. Just let you know in China we think Sir William Wallace was the greatest British in your history than everyone else on the list of top 10 greatest Britons selected in 2002 in UK.

    The list was:
    1.Isambard Kingdom Brunel
    2.Winston Churchill
    3.Oliver Cromwell
    4.Charles Darwin
    5.Diana, Princess of Wales
    6.Queen Elizabeth I
    7.John Lennon
    8.Horatio Nelson
    9.Isaac Newton
    10.William Shakespeare

    Another interesting thing is that when I saw the list above I asked my English colleague what she thought about Diana's making list. She said people can be crazy.

    Complain about this comment

  • 47. At 01:49am on 12 Jun 2008, tkbutt wrote:

    Re CS-Yang in #46,

    Princess Diana could have easily been replaced by King Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn. The latter 2 have caused monumental shift in England away from the Roman Catholic Church.

    That shows this list wasn't compiled by people who were familiar with their own history. It's like a list of famous modern Chinese people without Deng Xiaoping on it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 48. At 04:01am on 12 Jun 2008, Jonas_s wrote:

    Zhang Ziyi is hot!!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 49. At 04:32am on 12 Jun 2008, wingchau wrote:

    I have never heard of a Li Jiacheng until I read your article this morning. The man is known as Li Ka Shing when he uses the English version of his name all his life. It is the name given on his identity card and on his passport. It is the name listed in Who's Who. He has such up a charity foundation known as Li Ka Shing Foundation. Surely that is enough to go on with to identity the man. To use the Putonghua's version of his name will simply cause confusion. No wonder westerners find China a confusing country if the BBC reporter in the country cannot get the name the most prominent Chinese business man right.

    Complain about this comment

  • 50. At 07:35am on 12 Jun 2008, cambridgestuart wrote:

    All this talk about "Li Ka-shing, instead of Li Jiacheng" is a bit silly really, admittedly the only person who could give a final say would be the man himself.

    At the end of the day James picked that person I'm sure some people would have been unhappy even if he had of use the old romanization which fits with cantonese. Can we just leave it be.

    Complain about this comment

  • 51. At 11:49am on 12 Jun 2008, drmarkmark wrote:

    cambridgestuart,

    exactly the problem with chinese (or communist) at a personal level, most cannot leave it as it is. Dress the wrong clothing, ( in the 80s' the satndard colour were grey and blue in China, black and white in Gucci?) , refuse to conform, not saying the right slogan at the right time and not behaving up to the majority's concensus will result in total banishment.
    It is another kind of danger.

    at national level, it is another consideration.
    It is not only chinese, ' either you are our friend or you are with the enemy (? ) ' sounds familiar, I guess most still remember Bush saying something like this to his European allies when sending troop to Iraq.

    Names are important, A lot of Indonesian Chinese refused to change names in 1950s were killed.
    The most famous Chinese who loved his japanese name is President Li Deng Hui? of Taiwan. Yet in most time, he said he perfered to be and proud of his Japanese name. (not silly when the Duke of Windsor prefered to be a German.)

    Complain about this comment

  • 52. At 4:33pm on 12 Jun 2008, cambridgestuart wrote:

    Response to #51:

    I do not see this argument as reflective of Chinese society, individuals or history; I was honestly, simply trying to highlight that the argument, though fairly brought up, was never going to end and so there was no point carrying on with it. Especially as peoples comments, like such:

    "No wonder westerners find China a confusing country if the BBC reporter in the country cannot get the name the most prominent Chinese business man right."

    Were turning needlessly sour and rude, and taken out of context.

    Complain about this comment

  • 53. At 6:00pm on 12 Jun 2008, topbear1974 wrote:

    To drmarkmark:

    I think this post's intention is to understand china better. If you don't want to you can always go anywhere else. There is no point to use this post bashing chinese people.

    I found a lot of your comments discriminative for example : "exactly the problem with chinese (or communist) at a personal level, most cannot leave it as it is. Dress the wrong clothing, ( in the 80s' the satndard colour were grey and blue in China, black and white in Gucci?) , refuse to conform, not saying the right slogan at the right time and not behaving up to the majority's concensus will result in total banishment..
    "

    Do you know in that time people are poor and can not afford colorful clothes? This is the main reason of having grey or black cloth. People have quote for the amount of cloth they can buy, if they used up their quote they have to find something else to cove them up. That is why if somebody wear colorful cloth they would be frown upon. Like your ladies in the wartime they dyed their legs to replace socks. If somebody showed off and being wasteful at that period, they would be bashed and frown upon by the society too.

    I really don't mind that westeners don't want to understand china. Cause it is too complicated for you anyway. But what I hate most is the superior manner. No wonder the anti-discrimination law should be in place. It is in your blood. If you can't hold it, you will end up causing troubles with other ethic and make other people's lives hell, which will in the end make your own lives hell.

    Sometime I just wonder, do we live on the same earth at all? it would be nice if you can colony Mars and leave us alone. It is just such a pity for mars people, just like australia origins, they will be none exist any more.

    Complain about this comment

  • 54. At 03:47am on 13 Jun 2008, bluejeansbj wrote:

    In response to post 28:

    Even though the dispute over how to spell Li Ka-shing's name is stupid, it does not, howsoever, reflect any arrogance or superiority of the Han people. Really, Li Ka-shing is Han, so are most of the other people in Hong Kong.

    In response to post 41:

    As said by topbear1974, this blog is about China, so is this list that we are talking about. Having the list of top 10 Chinese does not mean that the other countries do not have well recognized celebrities too. Whether or not Armstrong can make to the top 10 Americans, and the fact that Yuan Longping speaks Hunan dialect, are totally irrelevant. For your information, Mao Zedong spoke only Hunan dialect too, and Deng Xiaoping spoke only Sichuan dialect. From most of the postings here, I don't see any "unnecessary self centre" or "unilateral thinking". Indeed, it is you who have this unilateral thinking - you just can't seem to get comfortable with the pride that the Chinese show in the achievements of their countrymen.

    Complain about this comment

  • 55. At 04:05am on 13 Jun 2008, drmarkmark wrote:

    #51, Cambdrigestuart,
    I know what you mean, in most time we/ I won't bother to keep lagging on this naming business. What is in a name...

    #53 Topbear1974
    What should I say?

    1. Read my posting carefully, again. Please.

    2. Do you agree you were banishing me for not saying things that appeals to your mind?
    that perhaps you are doing the exact description of my worries?

    3. More importantly, I think you have misread my posting. This shows how dangerous misunderstanding is.

    4. Lucky, I was not under your rule. This famous Taiwan writer Pak Yang?? suffered a lot by the same token. He cannot leave the Island, he was imprsioned. His love for China is momumental.

    5. I was in China during the turbulent years. I was invited to join the 'big parade' on the street to celebrate the 1969, 9th People's congress.... I had to stopped my lunch at 1200, when the chef and his team marched out of the kitchen to lead the slogan songs using their wok.
    I handed brought much needed supplies into mainland China in those days. ( dared not to bring bibles).

    I know people had a hard time, life was not easy. But it is not the poverty that hurted or killed.
    It is not the blue and grey clothing that hurted. People can be happy and contented.
    What hurt most were the children to report their parent's causal ridicules to the street party officers, it was when teachers were judged by the red guards and penalised for being able to speak English. Even playing piano was a crime. The victim and the victim

    No one is superior in this world, the root of the problem is far too complicated for us to discuss here.
    But somehow, I feel sorry as you have missed the point, partly because I did not express it clear enough.
    Read my posting again. though I don't know you . I beg you.

    As I trusted most of you ( including Mr Reynolds) will change China, and change the world.

    Complain about this comment

  • 56. At 04:27am on 13 Jun 2008, drmarkmark wrote:

    # 54 Bluejeansbj,

    I guess it is because we are free and this thread is too long and got tired after reading so.

    The point I would like to bring out, if you read my posting carefully, --
    is Armstrong is a brave man, so does Yang Li Wei, but Armstrong would not make it to the top 10 American that one has to know.
    By choosing Yang Li wei, tells me or others the standard of choosing is....
    This is the relevance I am trying to bring out.

    About Yuan Long Ping , he deserved so. I qouted him as perhaps only speaking Hunan, is to illustrate that not everyone speaks Mandariain and could still be Chinese, and a very very notable Chinese.
    This Mandarian insistance is the self centreness I am refering to, do you agree?

    I feel good when Chinese achieve, it is that I don't feel good if that is all what Chinese has to offer and proud of. ( Zhang Chi yi is good looking, but top 10? may be I am unilateral?? )
    Sure Chinese can do better.

    I do apologise for not being explicit enough and has to elaborate more.



    Complain about this comment

  • 57. At 08:22am on 13 Jun 2008, bluejeansbj wrote:

    Post 56, drmarkmark,

    Thanks for elaborating your view in further details. It seems that our views are not as different as I first thought.

    If I were to compile the list I'm not sure if I would include Yang Liwei, but including him does not mean the standard of the list is low. Armstrong could have been on the top 10 Americans list 30 years ago right after he walked on the moon. Even if not it is still perfectably understandable that different people may have different views and

    With respect to the dialects and the mandarin, I don't think Chinese people have this view that only those who speak mandarin are "Chinese". Mandarin, or pu tong hua as we call it, is the official language, a rather man-made one. It is largely based on the Beijing dialect but is still different. Every Chinese is born to speak a dialect, and has to learn Mandarin in school (otherwise it becomes impossible for people from different districts to communicate). I speak a dialect, my husband speaks another one. None of Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, or the other leaders that you see on TV, speaks perfect mandarin. But we are all Chinese, and nobody ever doubts that. There is nothing wrong with the "mandarin insistance" as you named it, because otherwise I would not be able to talk with my husband (other than in English, I guess!) It is nothing about self centre, it is merely a vehicle created to help the nationwide communication and education.

    Complain about this comment

  • 58. At 12:19pm on 13 Jun 2008, topbear1974 wrote:

    To drmarkmark:

    I am sorry if I did not get your points. When I was born that crazy period is over. Current china is very much different from the china at that time. For example I have only left country for 9 years ( I came to UK in 1999), I could not recognize my home anymore--not only new buildings have been constructed, there are new legislation in place to make society much more reasonable, for example there is no need to get state company's approval to get married any more, pension is provided from the states central fund rather than individual company in case company has gone bankrupt, also the state pension in shanghai is increased with inflation while before the older was mainly provided by their children, rubbished should be sorted now, even street rubbish bins has been separated by recyclable and none recyclable, even better than those in London, plastic bag is going to bid farewell ect ect. I could not even say I understand china completely. I really don't think you can use your experience 30-40 years ago on china. Of course china has a lot more to improve. But we need constructive criticism not delusion under the manner of moral high ground.

    I presume you have been in china before hence hold good hope on us (at least I wish). I was not banishing you. Same applied to you, please re-read my post, all I say is I don't mind you don't understand us, at least give some courtesy to leave us alone. I think you have banished me and other ordinary chinese more. For the event happened in the cultural revolution, I did not know for sure. But for everything exists in the world, it has a reason. It is ok you don't know but it is not ok to pointing fingers while don't know. The majority died in those 3 years were died of hunger, because of the drought followed by flood. Mum told me some even eats mud and grass root to survive. However, I do agree human error has aggravated it. Now you understand why people would frown upon those who wear colourful clothes. Luckily we don’t need to suffer that anymore. At least I have never suffered hungry in my life, thank to our government’s correct and efficient policies. You guys keeps on blaming china’s human rights. What is human rights? The rights to live and to eat and to have shelter over the head. CCP is doing a great job to improve them for the biggest population in the world. To us Chinese human rights is not prisoner’s welfare, not disability’s special rights, or gayman’s social status, because normal hardworking people don’t have them yet, or we had it hard. That is why you will find huge supporting base in china for ccp and western media is not popular.

    We chinese are strong and we have moved on from cultural revolution years. It If I say I am not sure about british's intention as they colonized us before, would you be offended and said you have moved on already? Same applies here. Please try to think in our chinese people's shoes when accuse. I know it is difficult as we are so different in culture. But at least try from humanity point of view.

    Thanks for comment in china's issue and I hope you have a nice day.

    Complain about this comment

  • 59. At 6:44pm on 13 Jun 2008, drmarkmark wrote:

    Dear topbear and Bluejeansbj,

    I am just an occassional scanner of this site.
    I am impressed with your(s) passions, so strong and powerful.

    It does not feel good to be misread, or misunderstood. It happens many times before,that my undergrad class had vote me out of their tutorial after my 'challenges'to their set ideas. Glad that I am not the sort of staff that can be laid off. On the otherhand, my post grad class rates me excellent.

    I would like to ask a flavour,please ask your mun again to describe to you those years, to see whether it was the hardship in life or the collapse of human trust that have hurted people most. Most people of that era simply refuse to recall.

    It is the group pressure to conform, the peer group pressure that twist individual's mind that drove many intellectuals committed suicide.
    What makes the west slightly better, is the tolerance of different opinions ,at least superficially.

    Also, while I have lived ,educated and worked in the west, and held /use
    a foreign passport, I am as Chinese as you ( or Lee Kuan Yew )are,if not more.
    (Though it should not make much difference in a rational discussion.)


    I was asked to change colour when I was a school boy and it was racism. The world is slightly more tolerant nowadays, it helps (us) with a strong China.

    But, but
    What I have learnt is before being a Chinese, there are some higher values.
    What these values are, open my mind. I am sure it will make itself clear to you all.

    A healthy China will help to build a healthier world.
    We should work on it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 60. At 8:55pm on 15 Jun 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    All interesting people that are representing the People Republic of China....

    Mixture of politics, culture and etc.

    Complain about this comment

  • 61. At 12:51pm on 17 Jun 2008, Jasreman wrote:

    An extremely good job. I thought i knew a lot about China... but you just proved me wrong :)

    Complain about this comment

  • 62. At 6:29pm on 17 Jun 2008, malaysian_chinese wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 63. At 11:25pm on 10 Jul 2008, cyndiyu wrote:

    I like Cheng Long, or Jackie Chan.
    I love his way of doing chinese martial arts ( kong fu) in films. you always find humor instead or pure fighting in his film .

    He worked extremely hard to be in the american filming industry. He contributes by showing his way of Kong Fu, and by showing asian faces in Hollywood.

    I think he represent a spirit most of us need to learn from.

    Complain about this comment

  • 64. At 7:47pm on 30 May 2009, astoundingoyes wrote:

    you could have Jay chou on, his is the most famous pop singer and song writer in China lol.

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.