According to English language official media of China, 人民日报 is People's Daily, 中国人民银行 is People's Bank of China, but 中国人民大学 is Renmin University of China.

What is the difference?

  • It's interesting. Renmin University of China was originally called, People's University of China. I'd be curious to know why the English name was re-branded.
    – Mou某
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 13:00
  • It's purely political. "People's University" would sound absurd to a person outside a communist state. The name seems to suggest that there are universities for the "non-people": the enemies. In communist glossary the antonym of "people" is "enemy". The word choice is unrelated to the meaning of the word 人民.
    – user
    Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 13:54

5 Answers 5


I am a Chinese. I am not sure the answer, but I can give you the opinion from a native Chinese.

We translate '人民' to 'People' in English, so English speakers know what '人民' means.But in someplace, we use the phonetic symbol of words to mean the word. It likes: use "ˈpēpəl's Bank of China" as "People's Bank of China". This is for the people who don't know what '人民' means, but know 'renmin'.

  • 人民 should be "the people", People Magazine in Chinese is 人物 Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 14:15
  • Learn a lot, thanks.
    – ink
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 2:34
  1. The 人民 instances are the same. "People" is the meaning, while "Renmin" is the pronunciation in Pinyin.

  2. There is a story behind the English name of 中国人民大学 (Renmin University of China). Initially, 中国人民大学 did translate itself as the "People's University of China". Later, as I heard, someone in charge believed that "people's university" could be wrongly taken by foreigners as a community college, which they believed would not reflect the university's standing as a top university in China 😅 -- although I didn't see why a community college couldn't be a top university at the same time 😅. Anyway so they decided to re-brand the name using Pinyin. The choice is purely subjective. Another case is the currency in China, 人民币(Renminbi), literally "people's currency". (I can't find the source for the renaming story, but it was so widespread when I was in the campus. I am a graduate of the Renmin U).

  • The authority of the college might have had the worry that peopel in other countries could have mistaken it for 中国人类大学 opposite to Animal University of China (if any)? Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 14:55
  • Hmmm... I don't think so. 人民 and 人类 are very different. If a country says it is for the people by the people, no one would take it as for the human beings but not for (other) animals living in the territory. 😂
    – aafulei
    Commented Jul 2, 2021 at 1:30
  • Do you know there is a phrase in English "a people person"? Might it be "a people university" in this context? Commented Jul 2, 2021 at 8:16
  • @NanningYouth According to《中国大百科全书》(政治学卷), “人民——政治用语,与‘敌人’一词相对而言。” ("The People" -- a political term, as opposed to "The Enemies". )
    – user
    Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 14:08

There is no difference in the meaning of 人民.

"People's Daily", "People's Bank of China", and "Renmin University of China" are proper nouns. Each institution or company independently decides what its name should be in English.

For example, when registering in China my company connected to wearyourchinesename.com (上海标毓商务咨询有限公司) I was asked to choose an English name. Both Shanghaibiaoyushangwuzixunyouxiangongsi and Biaoyu Business Consulting Services Ltd. would have been just fine.

Proper noun (or proper name): a noun that designates a particular being or thing, does not take a limiting modifier, and is usually capitalized in English.

  • 1
    Do you know the name of South Korea's capital city Seoul in Chinese is 首尔,but formerly it was 汉城,the former is the decision of Korean government, but in the case of the US president's name in Chinese 奥巴马, the US side first suggested it should be 欧巴马, but was rejected by Chinese side. Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 14:19
  • Right. Also, a few Chinese friends of mine told me that they didn't like the name 中国 has been given in English. Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 15:42
  • BTW, for Chinese companies, their English names are registered together with their Chinese names when the licence is issued. There is no legally bound translation for cities or people. Very famous persons (actually even the God of the Bible) are called in different ways according to the preferences of the different translators. Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 16:05

If your question is about the difference between "People's" and "renmin", then the former is a translation of the meaning, and the latter a pinyin rendering of the same two characters 人民.

If, however, you're wondering why 中国人民大学 is not called "People's University of China", then you will need to ask the person who registered the name of the university. Same with People's Daily and People's Bank of China. They could easily have been named "Renmin Daily" and "Renmin Bank of China". The choice of word is a business decision, not a linguistic one.


They are the same. That's just one of thousands of inconsistent translations in China. For more examples, XX Lu v.s. XX Rd., XX Dong Rd. v.s. East XX Rd., Central XX Rd. v.s. XX Zhong Rd., where Lu is 路, Dong is 东 and Zhong is 中. This kind of inconsistency in proper name translating is really puzzling.

  • 1
    Any translation is a piece of art showing the creativity of the translator. Someone may like it, others may not. After all, there are different ways to say the same thing in any language. Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 16:15

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