Since this fits right in with my recent posts on the ineluctability of "Q" and on the proposal by the Chinese chairman of the International Federation of Translators, Huang Youyi, to purify Chinese of English expressions (the proposed ban is probably the first step in an attempt to implement Huang's purification policies), as well as with a forthcoming post on the question of the inevitability of romanization (or at least some form of alphabetization), I will comment briefly on the current proposal to forbid the use of English acronyms in Chinese.
When I asked the opinion of my Chinese friends (both in the PRC and elsewhere) on the proposal to outlaw English acronyms, they uniformly responded with adjectives such as "stupid," "silly," "futile," "unworkable," "impossible," "retrograde," "outrageous," and so forth. Not one expressed approval of the proposed ban. Similar opinions were widely expressed on Chinese blogs.
Two things stand out in the way the ban was presented. First of all, various media outlets stated that they "had received notice from an unnamed government department" that they were to stop using expressions like "F1" (Formula One [racing] — very popular in coastal China), NBA (National Basketball Association), CBA (Chinese Basketball Association), WTO (World Trade Organization), and so on. In the English language reports that I have seen, there is no mention of exactly which government department proposed the ban. Many of my informants expressed the opinion that this is a typical ploy by the government authorities when they wish to institute some radical change that they suspect may not be well received by the public. Thus word of the proposed regulation will be leaked or floated through one or another outlet, and then the government will step back and see what the response is like. In this case, the response was uniformly negative, so I suspect that the new regulations will not be promulgated or, if promulgated, will not be enforced.
The second aspect of the announcement of the proposed ban is that it was issued to (and through) the likes of CCTV (China Central Television) and BTV (Beijing Television). CCTV and BTV are universally known and promoted through their Roman letter, English acronyms, and it is almost unthinkable that their acronyms would be expunged. In the CCTV logo, for example, the four Roman letters are noticeably larger and more prominent (the second, red "C" stands out conspicuously) than the seven Chinese characters (中国中央电视台 Zhōngguó Zhōngyāng Diànshìtái) beneath them, and often the Chinese characters are dispensed with altogether.
In a report that may be found here (or here), it is claimed that the directive to ban English acronyms was actually issued by the almighty State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television. The supreme irony is that this powerful agency of the PRC (!) government is known everywhere as SARFT! That's certainly a lot easier to write than 国家广播电影电视总局 Guójiā Guǎngbō Diànyǐng Diànshì Zǒngjú!
[Thanks are due to Daniel Maas, Gianni Wan, and Stefan Krasowski.]