In China, most people's names have two parts, the family names and the given names. One person may have different names. For example, when they are very young at home, they usually have pet names. In school and society they use their formal names. If someone is a writer, he or she has a pen name. Most of the names have special meanings. Some show their parents wishes. Girls' names show that their parents want them to be nice.
Chinese Common Used surnames
There were not many matriarchal tribes in ancient China, in other words, there were not many different Xing, therefore only a small number of today's xing surnames) were passed down from pure ancient xing. Based on The Spring and Autumn Annals, Gu Yanwu sorted out 22 ancient Surnames, and by studying ancient Chinese documents, Zhang Taiyan and other scholars found another 59 ancient Surnames. Altogether no more than 81 Surnames.
The Origin of Chinese Names
It is said that the original purpose of giving each person a name was for convenience. Ancient people found that whenever it was dark, they couldn't see each other and they couldn't tell who's who. Each person was given a name, so that they could address each other easily, even in the dark. Later, people became more and more particular about their names. Under the influence of political, economic and other factors, people had different preferences at different period of time.
（Adapted from Introduce China in English）