BEIJING — A decision to name an airport in southwest China after a local spirits brand has provoked widespread derision online and controversy around the country, reports said Sunday. Authorities in Yibin, in Sichuan province, said their move to name the new airport “Wuliangye” after a local liquor would have a positive impact on the city and the company. A Yibin government spokesman said the State Council, China’s cabinet, had approved the decision, the Global Times newspaper reported Sunday. Wuliangye is a well-known top-end spirits brand in China. Its eponymous flagship product is a white spirit made from the distillation of five grains, including sticky rice and sorghum.
The group has more than 40,000 employees, according to its website, and the company is based a few kilometers from Yibin airport, which according to media reports will have a capacity of 800,000 passengers a year by 2020. Various experts quoted by newspapers said that christening an airport with a trademark contravened both the law and the custom that airport names should refer to their geographic locations. Chinese Internet users waded into the controversy with derision. “Ha, ha, another new example of the collusion between the government and the business world,” Wu Yupeng mocked on his Sina weibo microblog. Others mockingly proposed rechristening Beijing international airport as “Erguotou Airport,” after another famous Chinese liquor, and renaming Xian airport in the northern province of Shaanxi as “Meat Sandwich Airport,” after a local specialty.