Opinions on Chinese postal map romanization

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Chinese postal map romanization (Chinese: 郵政式拼音; pinyin: Yóuzhèngshì Pīnyīn; Wade–Giles: Yo-cheng-shih Pin-in) was the system of romanization of Chinese place names which came into use in the late Qing dynasty and was officially sanctioned by the Imperial Postal Joint-Session Conference (帝國郵電聯席會議) held in Shanghai in the spring of 1906. This system of romanization was retained after the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912 and since it was in use in the official postal atlas of the Republic of China (ROC), it remained the most common way of rendering Chinese place names in the West (by cartographers for example) for a large part of the twentieth century.

Following the establishment of the People's Republic of China, its displacement of the ROC in the United Nations in 1972, and the adoption of pinyin as the international standard in 1982 by the ISO, the system has gradually been replaced by pinyin for Han Chinese location names and SASM/GNC romanization for ethnic minority language location names, which is now almost universally accepted.

The system is influenced by the French EFEO romanization which is based on Southern (Nanjing) Mandarin pronunciation. In addition, it uses some already common European names of Chinese places, and incorporates some dialectal and historical pronunciations.

Main differences from Wade–Giles, which is based on Northern (Beijing) Mandarin, include:

  • Complete lack of diacritic and accent marks.
  • Chi, ch'i, and hsi (pinyin ji, qi, and xi) are represented as either tsi, tsi, and si or ki, ki, and hi depending on historic pronunciation that was retained in Southern Mandarin but lost in the north, e.g.,
  • Unless it is the sole vowel in the syllable, w is used instead of u in Wade–Giles and pinyin, e.g.,
  • Kwangtung (Kuang-tung), Kwangsi (Kuang-hsi), and Fukien (Fu-chien) placenames are romanized from the local dialects, such as Hakka, Cantonese, and Min (systems also obtained from Giles' A Chinese-English Dictionary).
  • Popular pre-existing (from 19th century or earlier) European names for places in China are retained, such as those of the treaty ports.

Other orthographic peculiarities include:

  • hs- becomes sh- or -s, e.g., Kishien (from Chi-hsien)
  • (schwa) and -ei both become -eh, e.g., Chengteh (from Ch'eng-te) and Pehkiao (from Pei-ch'iao). occasionally also can be -e or -ei.
  • final u sometimes become -uh, e.g., Wensuh (from Wen-soo)

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