( Reuters ) - Some Beijing motorists are flushed with anger over new licence plate numbers that contain the letter combination "WC", saying it gives them "unpleasant images".
Along with "OK", "hello" and "bye-bye", the abbreviation for the Victorian "Water Closet", or toilet, has became one of the most well-known English expressions in China.
Despite being on a jargon hitlist of Olympic organisers, who plan to replace the "WC" with the more bog-standard "toilet", it remains all-too-vivid for some of the 800 Bejing car owners issued with the initials on their licence plates.
"I will not make myself a laughing stock among my friends by adding such a weird abbreviation to my new car," Xinhua quoted car owner Zhang as saying.
Authorities, however, were not sympathetic.
"We will not change our policy," a policeman in charge of issuing licence plates said.
English initials on car-plates have previously proved to be problematic in China, where homonyms and abbreviations occasionally have unexpected associations in Mandarin.
In Xinyang, Henan Province, "SB" was struck from licence plates as the initials are regularly used in Internet chat rooms to denote Mandarin's arguably most vulgar profanity, Xinhua said.
Traffic authorities in Haikou, capital of China's palm-fringed province of Hainan, removed the number four from number plates in August as it sounds similar to "death" when pronounced in Mandarin.