Chinese distilled spirit finally granted ‘Chinese Baijiu’ as its official English terminology
Global Times

A bottle of Kweichow Moutai (Photo: VCG)

Accounting for one-third of the world's total consumption of distilled spirits, China's famous distilled spirit will officially be called "Chinese Baijiu" in English; it has been mentioned as such in Chinese official documents since January 1.

The official English name "Chinese Baijiu" was applied in the 2021 Import and Export Tariff of the People's Republic of China implemented on January 1, Sichuan Daily reported.

Chinese distilled spirit, a clear liquor made from sorghum and other grains, is one of the six major distilled spirits in the world, in addition to Brandy, Whisky, Vodka, Rum and Gin.

Although its consumption accounts for one-third of the total consumption of distilled spirits around the world due to China's huge consumer base, it did not have an official English name, and was called a variety of names including Chinese spirits, Chinese distilled spirits and Chinese liquor.

In 2019, the English name of the Chinese distilled spirit, Chinese Baijiu, was revised by China's Standardization Administration in the recommended national standard, Terminology of Baijiu Industry.

The name was gradually accepted and recognized by industry experts as well as consumers after the academia's efforts to popularize it in international journals, conferences and literature.

Chinese netizens think the official English name accepted by the Chinese official documents will "increase the influence" of Chinese Baijiu and manifest that "culture makes the country powerful."

China's most famous distilled liquor Kweichow Moutai first grabbed international attention over a century ago when it won a gold medal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.

Baijiu — literally translated as "white liquor" — has a long and important history in China. Its place in Chinese culture is firmly entrenched due to alcohol-related Chinese folklore associated with many famous historical figures such as Li Bai (701-762), one of China's most notable poets, who was believed to have written hundreds of well-known poems while drinking the alcohol.

There are many types and fragrances of baijiu, and as many names relating to the methods of producing it. The Terminology of Baijiu Industry also identified English names for different types and fragrances of Chinese Baijiu, such as "laobaigan xiang xing baijiu" and "jiang xiang xing baijiu" for liquors produced through different processes, with typical flavors that are naturally generated during their fermentation processes.

An industry insider from the China Alcoholic Drinks Association thinks that the revised English name will play a positive role in accurately describing Chinese Baijiu as a national product, standardizing the export name of the liquor and expanding the international influence of the Chinese liquor, Sichuan Daily reported.