The Three Alls

First of all, a bit of Sino-Japanese history during WWII from Wikipedia:

The Three Alls Policy (Japanese: 三光作戦, Sankō Sakusen; Chinese: 三光政策, Sánguáng Zhèngcè) was a Japanese scorched earth policy adopted in China during World War II. Although the Chinese characters literally mean "three lights policy", in this case, the character for "light" actually means "all". Thus, the term is more accurately translated as "The Three Alls Policy", the three alls being: "Kill All", "Burn All" and "Loot All". In Japanese documents, the policy was originally referred to as "The Burn to Ash Strategy" (燼滅作戦, Jinmetsu Sakusen). The name "Sankō Sakusen", based on the Chinese term, was first popularized in Japan in 1957 when a Japanese war criminal released from the Fushun war crime internment center published a controversial book called "Sankō".

Like much of Japan's WWII history, the policy is still controversial today. Because the now well-known name for this strategy is Chinese, right-wing Japanese historians claim that the policy is merely Chinese propaganda, that using this term promulgates this left-wing disinformation, and they have even argued whether or not this policy actually existed. They further claim that this kind of scorched-earth policy was a part of Chinese, not Japanese history, saying that the Chinese maintained a scorched-earth policy during World War II—known in Japan as "The Clean Field Strategy" (
清野作戦, Seiya Sakusen?)—under which, Chinese soldiers would destroy the homes of their own civilians in order to wipe out any hiding places that could be utilised by the Japanese troops.  Many supposed victims of the Three Alls Policy, they claim, actually died at Chinese hands, and their deaths were misattributed to the Japanese.

However, in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, Herbert Bix, based on the works of Mitsuyoshi Himeta and Akira Fujiwara, claims that the Three Alls Policy, sanctioned by Hirohito himself, was responsible for the deaths of 2.7 million Chinese civilians, far surpassing The Rape of Nanking not only in terms of numbers, but perhaps in brutality as well.

So you get the point that the Chinese don't like The Three Alls (三光).  If you want an image for The Three Alls, this is the one that is associated with it (see 夜精灵——虚构黑暗……):

Now for today's story about The Three Alls.

(Guangzhou Daily via  By Qiu Min (邱敏).  August 11, 2006.

[in translation]

A Japanese corporation has applied for the trademark of Sanguang (三光) in China.  That trademark has so far passed the examination by the National Trademark Bureau and has now been published in the public notices.  Absent any objections, the Sanguang trademark can be used on medical products as of August 28.  As a Chinese consumer, can accept a product known as The Three Alls (三光) made by a Japanese corporation?  Presently, the first person to notice this trademark, Ma Peifeng (马培峰), has submitted a letter of dissent to the National Trademark Bureau.

Ma Peifeng is the legal department manager of the Yujia Trademark Affairs Office and he deals with trademarks on a daily basis.  Several days ago, he turned on the computer early in the morning and found a trademark named Sanguang in the notices of the Chinese trademark net.  This trademark would be used for medicine production, human medicine, medicinal beverages and medical nutrients.  The applicant was a Japanese company named Fuxian Production Corporation.

This caused Ma Peifeng to be greatly surprised.  The Three Alls was the terrorist policy designed by the Japanese invaders for China -- "burn all, kill all, loot tall."  To bring it up again now and registered by a Japanese company would vastly hurt the national feelings of the Chinese people?  He noticed that the deadline was August 28, which meant that "unless someone dissents, this Japanese company will be approved on August 28, 2006."

So Ma Peifeng took action immediately  He downloaded the form from the National Trademark Bureau website and filled it out with the dissenting opinion by reason that this "hurts the national feelings of the Chinese people."  he told the reporter, "the National Trademark Bureau will research this in at most two days.  Once it gets past the initial inspection, it will go into the full examination.

He said, "The examination takes a relatively long time.  I estimate three  years.  That is to day, within the next three years, The Three Alls trademark will not be protected by the law.  During the examination period, the corporation will not use the trademark based their own consideration."  Ma Peifeng expressed his own concerns, "Previous dissents are based upon arguments over infringement of rights.  This is the first time that an emotional reason of hurting national feelings is being offered as the dissenting opinion.  It is unknown whether this will succeed."

Yesterday, the reporter consulted the Trademark Notices (2006 Overall Issue 20 Specific issue 1025) and saw on page 113 the notice for The Three Alls.  The reporter also noticed that the Japanese corporation asked Shanghai Patent and Trademark Office to apply on its behalf.  The reporter then called up that company as an ordinary inquirer.

When the reporter asked about the Three Alls trademark, a business woman at the company said: "The Three Alls trademark will cause different people to think different things, and some people may think that it is no big deal.  We are just responsible for helping to send the trademark to the National Trademark Bureau.  It is up to the National Trademark Bureau to decide whether to approve this trademark, and we cannot do much.  If you have any dissent about this trademark, you can go to offer your dissent at the National Trademark Bureau.

The reporter then called the National Trademark Bureau's complaint department.  The person in charge told the reporter that the National Trademark Bureau periodically publishes a list of new trademarks.  Everyone can offer a dissent within the notice period (three months).  But one needs to go to the National Trademark Bureau to download the form, fill it out and then mail it in along with a 1,000 RMB fee to the National Trademark Bureau.  The complaint department will inspect the application and then examine it in order to come up with a decision.

According to the person in charge, the complaint department has not received any dissent about The Three Alls as yet.

Ma Peifeng said, "Our national trademark law article 10 rule 6: 'All marks that carry national prejudices cannot be used as trademarks.'  Rule 8: 'All marks that hurt social moral behavior or cause other bad influence cannot be used as trademarks.'  For either rule, the National Trademark Bureau should not accept the application for The Three Alls."

The reporter then interviewed Guangdong Provincial Trademark Office temporary director Dong Yidong.

Mr. Dong told the reporter: "When the National Trademark Bureau examines a trademark, it usually has three standards.  First, does this resemble any previously approved trademark?  Second, does the trademark stand out?  Third, do the words in the trademark carry bad influence?  But, the actual examination of a trademark is directly related to the personal knowledge of the examiner.  The personal factors for an examiner has a definite impact.  As for whether The Three Alls constitute national prejudice, there is not clear specification in the law.  But under ordinary circumstances based upon the individual characteristics of the registrant and the nature of the intended usage of the trademark, then if, for example, a Chinese company applying for a medical product trademark will be more readily understood and accepted than if a Japanese company did so."

From the forum, here are some netizen comments:

I firmly oppose!  No matter what the purpose was for the Japanese business people, this kind of trademark should not be attempted.  The law states clearly:  'All marks that hurt social moral behavior or cause other bad influence cannot be used as trademarks.'  What is 'harmful to social moral behavior'?  What is 'bad influence'?  The Three Alls is 'bad influence' in terms of respecting the feelings of the Chinese people and examining the historical angle.

Of course, any Chinese who knows the history would know that The Three Alls represents an insult to the Chinese people.  While the trademark company in Shanghai can claim that they only fulfill their client's wishes and don't care as long as they make money, then could the examiners in the National Trademark Bureau not know the historical background of The Three Alls?

Zhonghua brand cigarettes are all over China, but does that mean every Chinese person is a smoker?  I don't regard The Three Alls as a problem, but it is just too sensitive.

Is Mr. Dong correct about his assertion of the double whammy caused by the combination of a sensitive term with a Japanese corporation?

Here are some Baidu examples of The Three Alls by the Chinese for the Chinese:

Example 1: Beijing Star Daily via

[in translation]

In Liberation Road in When, on August 10, 2005, a clothing company had the eye-catching banner: "The Three Alls Policy: Dump all, Clear all, Lose all" to promote a final say before closing the store.

According to some citizens, this advertisement readily reminds people of The Three Alls policy of the Japanese invaders (namely, burn all, kill all, loot all) and is therefore unacceptable.  70-year-old Mr. Wang said that the Chinese people should not forget the crimes that the Japanese militarists committed against the Chinese people and the promotion tactic of this shop has severely hurt the national feelings.

Example 2:  The Three Alls Party Secretary (via

[in translation]

Zhouning county is a designated impoverished county.  Last year, the total financial revenue was only 30 million RMB.  However, the party secretary Lin Longfei has been accused of stealing more than 6 million RMB, or 1/5 of the annual revenue of the entire county.  Privately, the local people call Lin as The Three Alls Secretary (三光书记), because he was every bit as thorough as the Japanese ghouls in terms of cleaning things out.  In Lin's case, he has managed to sell all the government jobs for money, spend all the government money and take all the women that he has his eyes for.

Example 3:  The Three Alls State Enterprise (via 帮帮吧)

[in translation]

This is about a state-owned foreign trading company located in Beiguan, Yanzhou, Shandong.  It has been ten years already since we the workers lost our wages, living allowances and retirement funds.  Our 57 mu of land have all been sold off to people with connections.  There is nobody to help us.  We are now The Three Alls state enterprise -- our assets have been all eaten away, or all drunken away, or all sold away.

Example 4: Suzhou Sanguang Science & Technology Limited  This is an apparently successful Chinese technology company and nobody seems to be upset its name.