In the episode "The First Lesson" of "Mind Your Language", Chung Su-Lee says that she's from the "Democratic Republic of China". However, in real life, China is called the People's Republic of China. Later in the episode, she indicates that she's a committed communist and Maoist, so it seems unlikely she was referring to Taiwan (officially called the Republic of China).

Was this a mistake, or done deliberately to avoid referring to China by its actual name?

Doing a quick google search for real life People's Republic of Tyranny with the phrase "Democratic Republic of" gave

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Democratic Republic of Georgia (1918-1921)
  • People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (1967-1990)
  • Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918-1920)
  • Democratic Republic of Madagascar (1975-1992)
  • Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (1978-1992)
  • Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

but I don't imagine any of those countries being high profile during the time of the tv series, leading to an author accidentally calling China the "Democratic Republic of China".

Of the two best known People's Republics of Tyranny, East Germany was the "German Democratic Republic", and North Korea (presumably not high-profile in the 1970s) is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, neither of which are in the form of "Democratic Republic of X".

  • 2
    I think this is just a deliberate mistake. In British sitcoms from this era, there are quite a few made up countries that are similar to real life counterparts. I imagine that's what this is. Nov 21, 2014 at 13:27
  • 1
    I think it was added in for the hilarity of having Su-Lee struggle with all the R's. Nov 22, 2014 at 21:49

1 Answer 1


I don't think this is a deliberate error. A quick google suggests that a considerable number of people (including those with a deep knowledge of the local area and history of the region) refer to China as the "Democratic Republic of China" or "People's Democratic Republic of China".

Given that she makes it abundantly clear that she works at the Chinese Embassy and that she's a devout Moaist, it's far more likely (in-universe) that she simply misspoke. She is after all attending an English language course.

Out of universe, I suspect it's more to do with the fact that in Western eyes unless you actually said "Taiwan", most people would assume you meant mainland China regardless of whether you called it the "People's Republic of China", the "Republic of China" or even the "Democratic People's Republic of China". All they hear is the word China.

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