Being pretty sure that I’ve had this explained to me before, and I just forgot the explanation, I’ll ask again: How come we say "Beijing" instead of "Peking" now?
Here’s the thing that puzzles me about this: It was supposed to be a phonic representation of the way the Chinese name sounds. So how could the West have been so wildly wrong about the way the name of that place was said for so long? "Peking" doesn’t really sound anything like "Beijing," or at least not enough so that if someone said "Beijing," we would make the mistake of writing it phonetically with a "P" and a "K."
And if his name was Mao Zedong, why did we hear Mao Tse-tung for all those years?
My theory is that one version of Chinese somehow won out politically over another. Like Mandarin over Cantonese or some thousand other variations, because I know there’s a bewildering array of them. Another theory is that the Chinese are just messing with the heads of us foreign devils, and maybe at the height of the Olympics, while they have the attention they’ve been craving, they’ll suddenly announce that the city’s name is pronounced "Vei-ling" or something, just to see if we’ll start calling it that. Then they’ll laugh their heads off.
But I suppose that’s just the paranoia of the Westerner who never truly understands the East, try as he might.