Famous Chinese & Names

Assignment: Who are these famous Chinese or famous people of Chinese decent

Find a famous person who has a Chinese character name, list the person’s  name in English or other languages (if any), and his or her Chinese name in Characters (and in Pinyin). You can use Google Translate to get the Pinyin with tones. You should also include a short bio about the person. (See example posted below. Note that the famous person could be of any nationality.) Do not repeat what your classmate has posted. (For example: Bruce Lee, Yo -Yo Ma, Ni Na, Jet Li, Jason Wu, and Amy Tan.)

Chinese Names (http://www.behindthename.com/names/usage/chinese)

A modern Chinese usually has (1) a surname (“family name”) or xìng and (2) a given name (“first name” or “Christian name”), or míng (or míngzi 名字), always in that order. Thus Dèng Xiǎopíng is Mr. Dèng with the personal name Xiǎopíng the same way John Jones is Mr. Jones with the personal name John. Some Chinese writers in English reverse the order and put the family name last in order to conform to English usage: Xiaoping Deng. This confuses things when the surname and given name are not distinctive enough to be able to be sure which is which.

Traditionally, Chinese could assume additional names at other times in their life. These include the 字 (called a courtesy or style name), acquired upon reaching maturity, and the hào 號 (called an art name), a self-selected nickname.

Nearly always the family name (surname) is one-syllable long. The only common modern surnames that are two-syllables long are Ōuyáng and Sīmǎ. Occasional people have two surnames, usually written in English as two words: Wáng Xú.

Chinese given names usually consist of two syllables, though it is also possible to use only one. Those syllables can be any of the thousands of Chinese characters so the combinations are almost limitless. In practice some characters are chosen more often than others, such as Mei “beautiful” for girls. Sometimes the first character of the given name is shared by all members of a generation in a family (siblings, cousins, etc).

30 thoughts on “Famous Chinese & Names

  1. I.M. Pei 貝聿銘 (Bèi Yùmíng)
    Ieoh Ming Pei (born April 26, 1917), commonly known as I. M. Pei, is a Chinese American architect. Pei has won a wide variety of prizes and awards in the field of architecture, including the Pritzker Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture. Some of the best-known buildings that Pei desigend are: John F. Kennedy Library, National Gallery of Art East Building, Louvre Pyramid, Bank of China Tower, and Museum of Islamic Art.

  2. Ming-Na Wen (溫明娜 Wēn Míngnà)
    Ming-Na Wen was born on November 20, 1963. She is a Macau American actress. During her teen years she worked at her stepfather’s family’s restaurant called Chinatown Inn in Pittsburg, which her family still owns today. She later enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University where she graduated with high honors and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theater. She is best known for voicing Fa Mulan, the Disney Princess, in Mulan I and Mulan II, as well as Agent Melinda May in ABC’s action drama series Agents of S. H. I. E. L. D. She won the Annie Award in 1998 and the Online Film & Television Association Award in 1999 for her work in Mulan.

  3. Deng Xiaoping 鄧小平 (Dèng Xiǎopíng)
    Deng Xiaoping was born on August 22, 1904 in Guang’an, rising through political ranks to become the communist leader who ruled China from the late 1970s until 1997. He abandoned many communist doctrines and incorporated elements of the free-enterprise system into the economy. Deng engineered reforms in virtually all aspects of China’s political, economic and social life, restoring the country to domestic stability and economic growth after the excesses of the Cultural Revolution though cementing an inequality gap as well. His regime was also marked by the 1989 massacre of demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. Xiaoping died on February 19, 1997.

  4. Gong Li 巩俐 (Gǒng Lì) is a Chinese actress. She was born in Shandong province and grew up in Jinan, its capital, as the youngest of five children. She graduated from the prestigious Central Academy of Drama in Beijing in 1989. While a student at the academy she was noticed by Zhang Yimou, currently a famous director in China.
    Gong Li has received international acclimation in several more of Zhang Yimou’s films such as Raise the Red Lantern, a role in which she was nominated for an Oscar, and The Story of Qui Ju, as well as a host of other films, including Memoirs of a Geisha, a movie in which many Americans would recognizer her in.
    Through receiving many awards, and living a highly publicized life, Gong Li is immune to many of China’s censorship policies. She stars in several films that criticize the Chinese government.
    In 2008 she attained Singapore citizenship.

  5. Vera Ellen Wang (Chinese: 王薇薇; pinyin: Wáng Wēiwei, Mandarin pronunciation: [u̯ɑ̌ŋ u̯éɪ̯u̯éɪ̯]; born June 27, 1949) is an American fashion designer based in New York City. Vera Ellen Wang was born and raised in New York City, and is of Chinese descent. Her parents were born in China, and came to the United States in the mid-1940s. Her mother, Florence Wu, worked as a translator for the United Nations, while her father, Cheng Ching Wang, owned a medicine company. Wang has one younger brother, Kenneth. Beginning in 1970, Wang was a senior fashion editor for Vogue but left Vogue after being turned down for the editor-in-chief position and joined Ralph Lauren as a design director for two years.

    Wang has made wedding gowns for many well-known public figures, such as Chelsea Clinton, Karenna Gore, Ivanka Trump, Campbell Brown, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Victoria Beckham, Avril Lavigne, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Garner, Sharon Stone, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Hilary Duff, Uma Thurman, Holly Hunter, Kate Hudson, Khloe Kardashian and Kim Kardashian. Wang’s evening wear has also been worn by Michelle Obama

  6. Yo Yo Ma 馬友友 (Mǎyǒuyǒu) is a French-born Chinese American cellist. He was a child prodigy, and began performing at the age of five. After graduating from Juilliard School (a prestigious performing arts conservatory in New York) and Harvard University, Yo Yo Ma went on to become a world-renowned soloist, playing in various orchestras, and recording his own music as well. He has recorded over 90 albums and received 18 Grammy Awards. Yo Yo Ma is capable of a wide variety of genres, ranging from classical to folk and bluegrass to traditional Chinese melodies. The main instrument that he plays is a Montagnana cello built in 1733, and valued at US$2.5 million. Currently 59 years old, Yo Yo Ma continues to play around the world and share his musical talent

  7. Yao Ming
    姚明 ( yao(2) ming(2) )

    Yao Ming is most known for being a superstar NBA player. Born on September 12, 1980 Yao Ming had a very successful career in the NBA. Yao Ming was the tallest player in the NBA clocking in at a huge 7 ft. 6 inches. Born in Shanghai, China and as a teenage played in the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) on the team Shanghai Sharks. He was the first overall draft pick by the Houston Rockets in 2002. In 2011 Yao Ming announced his retirement from the league due to numerous injuries to feet and ankles that caused him to miss 250 games in his last six seasons. Yao Ming is consider China’s most famous professional athlete and many documentaries were made about him including one called The Year of Yao.
    Yao Ming is currently retired and an ambassador for preserving elephants.

  8. Lucy Liu 刘玉玲 (Liú Yùlíng) is an American actress. She became known for playing the role of the vicious and ill-mannered Ling Woo in the television series Ally McBeal, for which she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series. Her film work includes starring as one of the heroines in Charlie’s Angels, playing O-ren Ishii in Kill Bill, and appearances in Payback, Chicago. Liu’s parents originally came from Beijing and Shanghai and emigrated to Taiwan before meeting in New York.

  9. Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀, Lǐ Guāngyào) was the first Prime Minister of Singapore, formally leading the city-state under the People’s Action Party from 1959 to 1990, and informally maintaing a large degree of influence until his death in March 2015. Under his rule, Singapore rose from a colonial trading post under a forced union with Malaysia to an independent, high-income, and highly-developed state, as one of the four “Asian tigers” that achieved great economic success beginning in the 1980s. Lee’s rule was criticized by some as overtly unfree, overly involved in social issues, and exceptionally brutal, doling out punishments such as jailing or caning for infractions as small as littering. He was also accused of favoring the economic hegemony of his own ethnic group, the Han Chinese, at the expense of Singapore’s Malay and Tamil populations. Nonetheless, the rise of Singapore under the guidance of Lee Kuan Yew was a monumental success by any measure, and his rule is often considered an example of the “benevolent dictator” or “Confucian authoritarian” models of economic and social development for other states to follow.

  10. Li Shufu 李书福 (simplified)
    Lǐ Shūfú, Born in 1963, in Taizhou, Zhejiang, China. He is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Volvo and is also the Founder and Chairman of Geely Motors, one of the fastest-growing private automobile enterprises in China (the second largest private automobile manufacturer in China).

    Mr. Li started his career in the refrigerator and refrigerator parts manufacturing business in 1986, and then transferred to motorcycle manufacturing in 1993. In 1997, he entered the automobile manufacturing industry and has been devoted to the development of China’s auto industry over the past two decades.

    Under Chairman Li’s leadership, Geely Holding Group has been committed to independent innovation and development. He was appointed to the Volvo Board in 2010, after signing a deal worth US$ 1.8 billion to buy Volvo Cars from American automobile manufacturer Ford Motor Company.

  11. Ang Lee 李安(Lǐ Ān) is a Taiwanese director. Born in Pingtung, Taiwan, in 1954, he graduated from the National Taiwan College of Arts in 1975 before moving to the United States to get his Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre/Theater Direction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He later got his Master’s at NYU in Film Production.
    Ang Lee has received massive critical acclaim for his study of the workings on the human heart in films such as Brokeback Mountain and the Life of Pi. He was the first person of Asian descent to win an Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe for Best Director. Some of his most well-known films include Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi, The Wedding Banquet and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

  12. Mao Zedong – 毛泽东 (Máo Zédōng):
    Born in 1897 and living until 1976, Mao Zedong is one of the most prominent political leaders in Chinese history. He earned his legacy by successfully bringing the Communist Party to power and victory against the Nationalist Party in the Chinese Revolution.
    Mao was born into a peasant family in Shaosan, in the Hunan Province of central China. Going against the grain of imperialistic and traditional Chinese ways, he educated himself and trained as a teacher. He thus started educating himself on Marxist theories/thought and became a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party in the early 1920’s. Mao Zedong is credited for nearly single-handedly forging a place for the Communist Party to come to power through the first half of the 20th century. Mao cultivated the country of China and turned it around from imperialistic rule to one of socialism and Communism. Mao’s reign ended in 1976 by natural death, but his legacy still remains strong in China with his picture on the front of the Gates of Heavenly Peace and his open crystal coffin available for the public to view in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

  13. Confucius
    孔丘 Kǒng Qiū (given name)
    仲尼 Zhòngní (courtesty name)
    孔子 Kǒng Zǐ (most often known as, literally Master Kong)
    孔夫子 Kǒng Fūzǐ (honorific, literally Master Kong, Romanized name origin)
    Confucius (551 -479 BC) was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician and philosopher during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. His philosophy emphasized morality, both personal and governmental, and the respect of tradition. Respect for tradition was a main aspect of his philosophy. Confucius emphasized family loyalty, ancestor worship and respect for elders, parents and husbands. His most well known belief is “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself” modernly known as the Golden Rule.

  14. Stephen Chow- 周星馳 (Zhōu xīngchí) is a Chinese actor, comedian, and filmmaker. Born in 1962, Chow rose to stardom in the early 90s becoming of one China’s most famous comedic actors, fostering a new genre of outlandish and nonsensical comedic films. After multiple awards, Chow begun his directing career in 1994, which eventually led to his biggest action comedy successes such as Shaolin Soccer, and the world’s highest grossing Chinese language film, Journey to the West(2013). While Chow has also won multiple “foreign language” film awards from American ceremonies and festivals, he remains one of China’s biggest media powerhouses and continues also to introduce new young talents into the spotlight.

    Look for his movies on Netflix! Journey to the West is hilarious and very odd.

  15. Jay Chou
    Zhōu Jiélún
    Jay Chou was born January 18, 1979. He is a Taiwanese musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor. He is well-known for composing all his own songs and songs for other singers. In 1998 he was discovered in a talent contest where he displayed his piano and song-writing skills. Jay Chou grew up in Linkou, Taipei County, Taiwan. Both his parents were secondary school teachers: his mother Ye Hui Mei taught fine arts while his father Zhou Yao Zhong was a biomedical researcher. His mother noticed his sensitivity to music and took him to piano lessons at the age of three.


    My favorite song is Class 302.

  16. Li Baí (李白 701 – 762) the “Banished Immortal” was a Tang dynasty poet who (along with the poet Dù Fū (杜甫 712 -770)) is considered one of China’s greatest poets. Born in far western China his family moved to Sichuan when he was quite young. In his early twenties, he left for a life of travel, adventure and poetry. He had several government appointments (one of the primary ways in which poets at that time earned their living), but never kept them for very long. A prolific poet (and drinker of wine) he is said to have written several thousand poems, of which no more than about a thousand come down to us. His poems speak of the moon, nature, friendship and the pleasures of wine, and sometimes enter into mystical flights of fantasy. His poems also speak of (and sometimes in the voice of) ordinary people. Dù Fū called him one of “The Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup”. He is said to have drowned, while drunk, falling from a boat in the middle of a river, trying to embrace the refection of the moon.

  17. Jackie Chan -成龍 (Chéng Lóng)
    Birth Name: 陳港生(Chan Kong-sang)
    Jackie Chan was born in April 7, 1954 and is a Hong Kong actor, martial artist, film director, producer, stuntman, and singer. He is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons, and innovative stunts, which he typically performs himself. Chan has been training in Kung fu and Wing Chun. He has been acting since the 1960s and has appeared in over 150 films. Chan has received stars on the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars and the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has become a cultural icon.

  18. Bruce Lee-李小龍, born Lǐ zhǔn fēngshàn-李振藩, was a famous Hong Kong American martial artist, action film actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher, filmmaker, and the founder of Jeet Kune Do, a hybrid form of Kung Fu. Lee was born in Chinatown, San Francisco, but grew up in the Kowloon province of Hong Kong. At the 18 Lee moved back to the United States to attend the University of Washington, and began to teach martial arts. Lee’s many Hong Kong and Hollywood produced movies caused a surge of western interest in fighting styles from the “Far East”. His most notable movies are The Big Boss (1971), Fist of Fury (1972), Way of the Dragon (1972) directed and written by Lee, Enter the Dragon (1973) and The Game of Death (1978). Lee is an iconic figure throughout the martial arts world and even has a film biopic about his life.

  19. Jeremy Lin -“林書豪” or Lín Shūháo. He is from Taiwanese decent. He was born on Aug. 23, 1988 in California. He grew up playing basketball and went to Harvard to play for them. He could not walk on graduation day due to his preparations for the NBA. But while in college, he was ranked in the top- 10 of every significant statistical category. Even with that he was not drafted in 2010. But that didn’t stop him and now he is playing for the Los Angles Lakers. He mostly is known for the his playoff run with the New York Kincks where he came off the bench and changed the momentum of the series. This lead to his famous quote “Linsanity.”

  20. 艾未未, or Ai Weiwei, is an infamous Chinese artists known for his poignant art and ability to push the envelope with the CCP. 艾未未’s early life was dramatically shaped by tumultuous mid-century Chinese politics. When he was one year old, his father, Ai Qing, was denounced in the anti-rightest campaign for his well known poetry. 艾未未 and his family moved to a labor camp in 1958, and in 1961 were exiled to the desolate Xinjiang Provence in Northwest China where they lived for the next 16 years until Mao’s death in 1976.
    艾未未 first became famous for his social commentary that was published via the internet beginning in 2005. His visibility had generally allowed him to maintain a stream of party criticism up until 2011 when he was arrested and has his apartment searched and propertied seized. 艾未未 was released a couple months later.
    艾未未 is well known for his visual art, and expert in many media. He was the arcitect of the Beijing Stadium featured in the 2008 Summer Olympics.

  21. Constance Yu-Hwa Chung or better known as Connie Chung宗毓華, is an American journalist. She is the youngest of ten children and was born in Washington D.C. on August 20th, 1946. Before her family immigrated to America, her father William Ling Chung worked as an intelligence officer in the Chinese Nationalist Government. Her educational background includes receiving her high school diploma from Montgomery Blair High School in Maryland then completing a Bachelor’s degree in journalism in1969 from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has worked extensively as a news anchor and reporter at some of the most well-known television networks including, ABC, CNN, MSNBC and CBS. Not only did Connie Chung became the first woman to co-anchor the CBS evening news, she was also the first Asian and the second woman to become an anchor on a major news network. Due to her major impact in journalism, she is an Emmy and Peabody Award winner.

  22. Tan Dun (譚盾/Tán Dùn) is a contemporary composer and conductor, who was best known for composing music for the movies”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Hero” as well as composing music for the 2008 Olympics. Tan Dun was born in a small village in Changsa, where he found the rituals and ceremonies of the village shaman interesting, yet was sent to be a rice planter instead. When he was young, he joined an ensemble to learn to play traditional string instruments, and later studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. At the school, he met with many composers such as George Crumb and Chou Wen-Chung which inspired him to become a composer. He won an Academy Award for Best Original Score and a Grammy Award for Best Soundtrack in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, and was the Musical America Composer of the Year in 2003 .

  23. Teresa Teng 鄧麗君 (Dèng Lìjūn)
    Teresa Teng was born on January 29, 1953 in Tianyang Village, Baozhong Township, Yunlin County, Taiwan. She is a famous Chinese singer who was known for her folk songs and romantic ballads. Some of her most popular songs include “Will You Return?” and “The Moon Represents My Heart”, which demonstrate her singing style of simplicity, sweetness, and sincerity. She was the only girl amongst her siblings as she had three older and one younger brother. Teresa Teng had sung ever since she was a young child and began to win singing competitions. Eventually she was able to support her family and quit school to pursue her musical career with approval from her father. Teresa Teng’s popularity shot up in the 1970’s after her successful entrance into the scene in Japan and she has sung not only her native language of Mandarin, but also in Cantonese, English, Japanese, Indonesian, and Taiwanese. Teresa Teng never married or had any children and unfortunately, she suffered from asthma throughout her life and died in 1995 from a severe respiratory attack. She is commemorated through memorials, foundations, figures, and even stamps set in her name and image.

  24. 冼星海 or Xian Xinghai was a Chinese Composer who composed in the romantic style. Born in Guangdong in 1905, his father died when he was young, and he and his mother moved to Singapore. 冼星海 received his first musical training in Elementary school. He would later go on to study at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and then at the Paris Conservatory Xian Xinghai was the first chinese person accepted to the Paris Conservatory’s music composition program (who’s illustrious graduates also include Pierre Boulez and Oliver Messaien). 冼星海 died in Moscow at age 40 of pulmonary disease due to being trapped in Khazatstan because of some stupid political thing with an anti-communist Chinese warlord.

    冼星海 is the Yellow River Cantata, which took traditional chinese melodies and used them in a western classical setting. The Yellow River Cantata was later adapted into the Yellow River Concerto, one of the hardest piano works ever written.

  25. FanBingBing (范冰冰) is a very pretty chinese actress/model/singer/producer I found on the Internet. Her movies include “X-men-Days of Future past” (2014), “Lost in Beijing” (2007), “Iron man 3” 2013. Fan has received awards from the Tokyo International Film Festival, Beijing College Student Film Festival, Golden Horse Film Festival and Hundred Flowers Awards, among others. She was ranked first on the “50 Most Beautiful People in China” list in 2010 by the newspaper Beijing News. She became famous around 1999 when she played a supporting role in a drama called “Princess Pearl”. She was born in September of 1981, making her in her thirties and making her a rooster on the Chinese zodiac symbol. She is from Quinwang. She shares a relationship with a lucky actor named Li Chen (李辰).

  26. Sun Tzu (孫子) – His name means ‘Master Sun’
    Born sometime around the year 544BC with the birth name ‘Sun Wu’ (the ‘Tzu’ would later be added as an honorific), Sun Tzu would come to be a successful Chinese military strategist, general, and philosopher who lived throughout the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. He is most well-known for writing the widely dispersed treatise on military strategies ‘The Art of War’, which was a ruler’s staple for learning about and employing war tactics . ‘The Art of War’ is still praised heavily in Eastern Asia, as well as the rest of the world, and it is still in use worldwide.

  27. Guan Tianlang (關天朗) is a 16 year old Chinese golfer from Guangzhou China. He is currently an amateur golfer, which means he has not accepted money from golf tournaments. in 2013, he won the Asia Pacific Amateur Golf Championship, which qualified him to be able to play in the Masters tournament. As a 14 year old, he was the youngest to have ever played in the Masters at Augusta National. He got to play practice rounds with Ben Crenshaw and Tiger Woods, who really enjoyed him. During the tournament, he was flagged and was costed slow play penalty, the first one since 2010. He made the cut, and finished a respectable 58th. Two weeks later, he played in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which he made the cut again, but fell back and was last place.

  28. Michelle Wingshan Kwan, or 關穎珊 (Guān Yǐngshān) was born July 7, 1980, in Torrance, California to parents who had immigrated from Hong Kong. Michelle Kwan is the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history and was best known for her consistency in delivering clean programs, strong skating skills, and deep, quiet edges. She won five World Championships and has nine world medals overall, the record for any American skater. She has also won nine U.S. Championships and holds the record for the most consecutive U.S. titles (eight) and most consecutive U.S. Championship medals (twelve). Michelle Kwan earned the silver medal at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano and the bronze in Salt Lake City in 2002.
    After her withdrawal from the 2006 Olympics due to injury, she has not returned to formal competition. She has, however, since become involved with international diplomacy. In 2006, Kwan was appointed as a public diplomacy ambassador, and her position as an envoy has continued in the Obama administration. In 2011 it was announced that she would also be serving as an adviser to the U.S.-China Women’s Leadership Exchange and Dialogue (Women-LEAD), and in 2012, she was appointed as a State Department senior adviser for public diplomacy and public affairs.

  29. Jackie Chan, 成龍, (Chéng Lóng)
    Is a Hong Kong actor, martial artist, singer and philanthropist. Born April 7th 1954, he started acting during the 1960s, and since then has become a pop culture icon for his stunts and marital arts movies. He has recently become a prominent singer in the emerging pop music industry in Hong Kong and has stars on both the Hong Kong Avenue of stars and the Hollywood walk of fame.

  30. Dù Fu3 (杜甫)was a Táng dynasty poet considered one of China’s greatest poets, along with his friend Lí Bái, with whom he is frequently paired (the two of them are sometimes referred to as “Li-Du”). He was born near Luòyáng (the “Eastern Capitol”) in 712 CE though he claimed the capitol city of Cháng’ãn (now Xī’ān) as his home. Much of his poetry is deeply personal and autobiographical. Some of the poems written during the period of the Ān Lùshān rebellion (755 – 763) are particularly harrowing. My favorite poem (at the moment) is a poem of springtime (Welcome Rain on a Spring Night – chūn yè xi3 yu3) written during a happy period when he lived in his “thatched cottage” in Chéngdū. And the poem Ballad of the (War) Wagons (bīng chē xíng) is, I believe, one of the great anti-war poems.

    Dù Fu3 spent much of his life traveling, looking for work and patronage, trying to keep out of the way of rebellion and civil unrest. He died in 770 while trying to return to Cháng’ān.

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