This is surely some style guide thing, but I'll link and excerpt six Reuters headlines:

"Pakistan military rescues..."

"Pakistan crowd vandalizes..."

"China state banks..."

"... as China woes persist"

"Anger as French government..."

"German military in worse shape..."

It seems a tad unusual that some stories will use the Demonym form ("French", "German") and some will use just the noun name of the country ("Pakistan", "China"). I would have expected that Pakistani or Chinese were the more natural form to use in the headlines. I would find it hard to imagine seeing the "Germany military" or the "France crowd". After trying to research this I also found a recent NYT piece that says "China Central Bank" instead of the possessive "China's Central Bank" or "The Chinese Central Bank" or its actual name.

It does not appear to be 100% consistent in that "China's" and "Chinese" is used sometimes by Reuters, but it does seem like there is some kind of style norm guiding how to refer to each country's government. I would be open the idea that I am mistaken and this is just down to individual sentence construction and I'm seeing a pattern when there is none.

What is the underlying style rule that governs this? Answers can use any style guide, I chose my examples from Reuters but the question is broader.

  • 2
    Some of these bear a distinction of talking about a country, versus talking about things belonging to a country. The "China woes" article, for example, describes others' frustration that China isn't buying much oil. They are "China woes", not "Chinese woes" - the woes are about China, the woes don't belong to China or its people. Similarly, with "Pakistan crowd", that describes a crowd in Pakistan, versus "Pakistani crowd" which describes a crowd of Pakistani people located in an arbitrary location. Some of these examples seem more related to the usage rather than the country. Aug 22, 2023 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


Another possibility is the proper name is being used. For example the official name of the Central Bank of the Chinese government might be "China Central Bank" so calling it "the Chinese Central Bank" might confuse the matter (I do not know if this is the case).

Almost certanly the German Military would never call themselves the Germany Military because Germans do not call their country Germany (It's an Anglosphere word. In German the country is called Deutschland and people from there are Deutsche).

In general, this is quite common in many languages where a nation's name does not translate well. In China, for example, the USA is called 美国 which means Beautiful Country because the full name of the United States in Chinese is a mouthful 亚美利加 (roughly translated it means "beautiful, profitable, strong combined public country"). The name is derived from the fact that the second syllable in America sounds like the Chinese word 美 which is pronounce mei and means "Beautiful". It's not to say that the U.S. isn't pretty (because it is) but generally, Chinese give names to countries that are flattering. A more archaic name for the U.S. (though still used by some U.S. companies that had an early presence in China) is 花旗國 which translates literally to "Flower Flag Country" though most sources will provide a better translation of "The country with the patterned flag". This is due to time of first contact and U.S. Flagged Ships in Chinese Ports having the very distinct flag compared to the ships of other nations (flowers are likely the original interpretation of the stars on the flag's blue field.). Also, when listing countries in a name order, China will list them by the number of pen strokes needed to write the name of the country (since the written Language is based on symbols carrying syllables of sounds, rather than Latin Alphabets, where the character carries only one sound).

  1. To a British reader, "Pakistani crowd vandalizes..." would mean that a crowd of people from Pakistan vandalized something (possibly in England), while "Pakistan crowd vandalizes..." makes it clear that it was a crowd in Pakistan (that might contain non-Pakistani persons).

  2. "China woes" are woes with China while "Chinese woes" are woes that the Chinese have.

  3. Unlike "Germany" or "France", "China" is sometimes used as an adjective in headlines: The China Crisis or The China Model. See also: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/602859/china-balloon-vs-chinese-balloon

  4. Headlines are not always grammatically correct. They are in "headlinese". Their purpose is to be brief and comprehensible. Sometimes this requires abandoning grammar.

  • 1) is incorrect. I'm from the UK and "Pakistani" is perfectly fine here. It's the shortened form "Paki" that's offensive.
    – F1Krazy
    Aug 23, 2023 at 13:47
  • @F1Krazy Edited. Thank you.
    – Ben
    Aug 24, 2023 at 7:09

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