🖤 Donations of all sizes power our public service journalism Give Now

A new Chinese program will allow users to keep lucky cell phone numbers

Rob Schmitz Nov 22, 2010
HTML EMBED:
COPY

A new Chinese program will allow users to keep lucky cell phone numbers

Rob Schmitz Nov 22, 2010
HTML EMBED:
COPY

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Used to be, one of the big hassles of changing wireless phone carriers in this country was having to also change cell phone numbers. That was fixed a few years ago. In China though, they’re still dealing with the issue. And there, changing numbers could lead to all kinds of bad luck. So the government’s announced a pilot project that’ll allow people to keep their numbers even if they change carriers.

Marketplace China Bureau Chief Rob Schmitz reports.


ROB SCHMITZ: There’s a lot to think about when you sign up for a phone number in China: most people want an eight. It’s synonymous with wealth. A nine’s good too. It means longevity. Stay away from four. It sounds like the word ‘death’ in Chinese — that’s why many buildings here don’t have a fourth floor. Having one-four in your number is even worse. The combination sounds like ‘I want to die’ in Chinese. When Wang Baoping first signed up for a number, she noticed a four, so she paid a little extra for a safer number. But she might as well throw in a horseshoe and a four-leaf clover to help her with her phone bill-rates have gone up, but she can’t switch phone companies without changing her number.

WANG BAOPING: I paid for this number! There’s no way I’m going to change it now. I’ve always had this number, and I love it.

The government’s new program will give Wang what she wants. It’ll make phone numbers more permanent. That’s good news for everyone from Wang to a popular restaurant reservations line that has the number 57575777 in Chinese, that sounds like: I eat, I eat, I eat, eat, eat.

In Shanghai, I’m Rob Schmitz, for Marketplace.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.