Country Focus: China - Number Game

Welcome to our new category “Market Focus China”. Throughout the next few months we will cover many different topics surrounding the Chinese Internet World – for both newbies and veterans alike. Our first post will give you some fun facts on the symbolism of numbers but also practical hints for Internet ventures in China.

Numbers and numerology have always played a pivotal role in Chinese belief systems. These beliefs were as much spiritual as practical and are still evident in modern day life. If you’ve been to China before and wondered why many apartment and office blocks don’t have a 4th floor (or a 14th or 24th for that matter) the answer lies in the connotations the spoken word holds (see below)  And you could never accuse the Chinese of being selective in their superstitious beliefs: the number 13 is shunned almost as much as in the supposedly ‘rational’ Western world. You may also like to consider the following (entirely true) nuggets of information:

  • The Summer Olympics in Beijing will officially start at 8pm on 8/8/2008 (and no, this isn’t a coincidence)
  • A regional Chinese airline reportedly paid about EUR 224,000 to use 8888-8888 for its telephone number
  • The car licence plate ‘AC6688’ recently sold for a whopping EUR 7,500


A brief explanation of the reasoning behind so-called ‘lucky’ (e.g. 6, 8, 9) and ‘cursed’ numbers (4, 13, 14, etc.) may help to make things clearer. With Chinese word-sounds usually having multiple meanings,  it’s little wonder the spoken form of every number could easily be understood as something else – the following, in fact:

  • 0 – sounds like ‘you’
  • 1 – sounds like ‘want’ or ‘will
  • 2 – sounds like ‘love’
  • 4 – sounds like ‘death’
  • 5 – sounds like ‘I’ or ‘none’
  • 6 – sounds like ‘smoothly’
  • 7 – sounds like ‘family’, ‘wife’ or ‘together’
  • 8 – sounds like ‘prosperity’ (or ‘get rich’)
  • 9 – sounds like ‘a long time’ (or ‘forever’)
  • 14 - sounds like ‘going to die’ - the evilest of all numbers


Now what does that mean for the Web world you might wonder. Well, Internet entrepreneurs have not been slow to recognise the dual meaning of many numbers, taking advantage of the most auspicious numerical formations in their domain names:


  • - spoken as wo yao - which means ‘I want’ (China’s biggest social networking site)
  • – ku le – ‘cool/happy’ (video sharing portal)
  • – le – ‘happy’ (video sharing portal)
  • - wo le – ‘I happy’ (video community)
  • - jiu yue wo ba – ‘date me’ (dating site)
  • - yao ting – ‘I want to listen’ (music portal)
  • wo si nian ni/wo xiang nian ni  - I miss you (classmates portal)
  • wo ai pk – ‘I love PK’ (gaming portal)
  • qi le le – ‘let's be happy together - let's play together’  (gaming portal)
  • – le qu –‘ amazement’, ‘go to play’ (entertainment portal)
  • - yao qu kan- ‘going to look at it’ (books and magazine reviews)
  • yao liu ba – car on the road to prosperity (car community)
  • - yao er liu – ‘let you be happy’, ‘want you to be happy’ (email provider)
  • - wo jiujiu – ‘mine forever’ (music portal)


and to round off our list (and avoiding only 14 entries):

  • - not a wordplay in this case but one of the fist modem dial in numbers from China Telecom back in the days. Now taken as the domain name of NetEase, one of China's leading Internet and online game services providers.

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