China bans its own national anthem


Aside from the ban on smoking, you’d be hard pressed to find anything inherently wrong or subversive with any one item on the verboten list, a fact that China’s netizens were quick and more than happy to point out on blogs, social networking sites, microblogs and other online communities when each ban was officially announced.

Beijing just shrugs off the mockery and ridicule, insisting that each ban is for the good of China’s masses. And the Party, of course.

Still, it’s hard to fathom how older bans on things like reincarnation and time travel can really make anyone’s life better. Or really help keep the CCP in power.

To be fair, China did lift the ban on gaming consoles, Brazilian beef and Lady Gaga in 2014, but the reasons why it did are just as murky as why each was banned in the first place.

Now, in an announcement that isn’t totally absurd, weird or crazy, China has banned its own national anthem.

A series of rules proposed by the government will set strict limits on when, where and how “March of the Volunteers”—the anthem of the People’s Republic since 1949—can be performed, state-run Xinhua news agency reported Friday.

The bottom line is that China’s national anthem can no longer be played or sung at weddings, funerals and dance parties.

Which sounds reasonable to me.

I’m also pretty sure the ban will make the lives of brides, mourners and club-goers much better.

Under new rules, the anthem is to be reserved for major political and diplomatic occasions, as well as places such as sporting arenas and schools, said the BBC.

But that doesn’t mean the ban isn’t a bit overbearing.

When singing the anthem, people should dress appropriately, stand still and be full of energy, according to the government.

CNN noted that according to the new rules, people must sing the powerful marching song in its entirety, enunciate every word and follow the rhythm. No one is permitted to start or stop singing midway—and altering the melody, lyrics or musical arrangement is forbidden. And, of course, no whispering, applauding or talking on the phone, either, while the anthem is played.

The rule is to “standardize proper etiquette for the national anthem, which reflects national independence and liberation, a prosperous, strong country and the affluence of the people”, the official Xinhua news agency said.

People who break the rules will be “criticized and corrected,” Xinhua added.

Historians will tell you that this isn’t the first time “March of the Volunteers” has been banned.

During the Cultural Revolution, its lyricist Tian Han, was arrested (not his first time), and the song was replaced with “The East is Red.” The song was not officially restored to national anthem status until 2004, although with slightly different lyrics.

Interestingly, the anthem was performed in an official capacity in Hong Kong following the handover of the territory to the PRC in 1997.


About the Author

The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.

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