Translation:What is the most famous animal in China?
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To me that's even better than "What is the most famous animal in China" or "What animal is most famous in China", as both of those can be interpreted as meaning "What animal from who-knows-where-in-the-world is most famous in China, whereas the Chinese actually means "What animal of China's is most famous around the world or who-knows-where".
Actually this is a matter of how we conceive of the adjective, in this case "famous".
With "the", the adjective is nominalized, as the implied noun (in this case "animal") has been elided from the end of the sentence, and the adjective remains to perform its function.
Leaving out "the", on the other hand, is valid where we treat the adjective as simply predicative, which is a normal way to use adjectives.
It's undoubtedly true to say that the nominalized version is much more common for this kind of superlative expression, but both versions are grammatically correct.
(However, if we're going to call one more colloquial, I'd suggest it should be the nominalized version.)
Two animals can be equally famous, and "the most famous animals" is just as grammatically valid as "the most famous animal", so "the" doesn't necessitate the singular.
"Which animals are the most famous" could also be a question about the two or three most famous animals among a larger group of relatively famous animals, even if, within that top tier, one were still more famous than the other(s).
Because in the most basic scenario, adjectives (e.g. "有名") used as subject complements in Chinese are essentially stative verbs and contain the concept of "to be".
Or you can think of "有名" even more directly as a verb phrase meaning "to have a name", so this sentence translates to something like "China's what animal most has a name".
I don't know. Really it's "What animal of China's is the most famous", as it doesn't specify where it's famous, and the likely intended meaning is "most famous around the world". We can get away with using "in China" to describe the animal, but I think your suggestion shifts the idea to suggest that there's an animal from who-knows-where that's the most famous in China. i.e. among residents of China.