In China, 100 surnames dominate the country. In fact, almost 90% of the population share one of the top 100 names.
Lao baixing (老百姓) is a term used in China to refer to ordinary people or the common folk. It literally translates to “old hundred names” (老百姓), suggesting that these are the people who make up the majority of the population and form the backbone of society. So if you’re a lao baixing, you’re just a regular person trying to get by in the world, nothing fancy or extraordinary about you. But that’s not a bad thing! Lao baixing are the ones who keep the wheels of society turning and make it possible for all the flashy celebrities and politicians to do their thing. Without lao baixing, the world would grind to a halt.
“Lao baixing (lǎo bǎi xìng) shì wǒ men shè huì de zhī zhù, méi yǒu tā men, wǒ men jiù wú fǎ jìn bù.”
“Lao baixing are the backbone of our society. Without them, we cannot progress.”
Chinese surnames and statistics
There are approximately 2,000 Han Chinese surnames in use today, but 19 of these surnames are used by approximately half of the Han Chinese population. About 87% of the population has one of the top 100 surnames. (Wikipedia)
The most common 19 Chinese Surnames
From the most common to less common:
Classical Text: 百家姓
“Hundred Family Surnames,” also known as Bai Jia Xing (百家姓), is a Chinese text that lists Chinese surnames. It was written in the early Song dynasty and originally contained 411 surnames, which was later expanded to 504. (web archive).
Chinese Surnames in the West
In some cities, especially New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto and London, Chinese surnames are among the most common surnames!
Another very common surname in these cities, but also in Paris and Berlin is the Vietnamese Nguyen.