On May 27, Chinese actress Qi Wei made a joyous announcement to her 48 million followers on Weibo: Qi and her Korean American husband Li Chengxuan (aka Nathan Lee) are expecting their second child. Chinese netizens have been especially invested in Qi’s second pregnancy ever since the actress announced that her second child would inherit her family name, Qi.
Contrary to naming traditions in the West, women in China do not adopt their husband’s surname after being wed. Nonetheless, it is common practice for children to inherit paternal surnames in China, which makes Qi and Lee’s decision atypical.
“Before I even gave birth to Lucky [the couple’s first child], we discussed and agreed that if we had children in the future, our first child would take Li’s last name while the second would take mine,” said Qi in a livestream.
Not only has the hashtag related to Qi’s announcement accumulated more than 200 million views, but many have also written in to applaud the couple’s decision.
“This is how it should be. No law requires a child to inherit its father’s surname,” posted a netizen on microblogging platform Weibo.
“For a public figure such as Qi to be doing this sends a nice message. I hope more women can fight for their rights to pass their last names on to their children,” wrote another.
Some have shared their hopes that matriarchal naming traditions will be normalized: “I hope this practice can be more common in the future.”
On the other hand, others think it matters not whose last name the child adopts: “It is the couple’s child. Taking dad’s last name or mom’s last name is the same thing.”
According to state-back online publication Sixth Tone, the Chinese surname inheritance system is “a defining characteristic of the country’s traditional patriarchal family structures, which greatly emphasized the need to have sons to carry on the family name.”
If anything, Qi’s big announcement underscores an increased awareness of the importance of challenging old-fashioned traditions, including passing down a father’s surname to the next generation.
Cover image via Qi Wei’s official Weibo
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