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China to introduce tough measures to ensure national anthem is sung at the right tempo

There are already laws in place to ban it being sung at parties, weddings and funerals.

Image: Xinhua/SIPA USA/PA Images

CHINA IS FINE-TUNING legislation on the proper way and place to sing its national anthem, tightening rules that already bar people from belting it out at parties, weddings and funerals.

A draft bill is being prepared because of concern that the patriotic ballad is “not universally respected and cherished”, state media reported Tuesday.

“Due to a lack of legal constraints, the national anthem is casually used and sung in an unsolemn manner,” said the Xinhua news agency.

China already has laws covering the use of its national flag and national emblem but none for its anthem, “March of the Volunteers,” aside from a ban on its use in advertisements.

Written in 1935 before the Communist Party took power and officially adopted in 1982, the buoyant, military-minded score calls on the Chinese people to “arise” and “march on” toward the establishment of a new nation.

The draft legislation will stipulate the tempo at which the song should be played, in which circumstances and moods, and the legal consequences of playing the anthem in a “damaging situation”.

It follows regulations on national anthem etiquette that were announced in 2014 to “enhance the song’s role in cultivating core socialist values”.

These values are part of the ruling communist party’s ongoing “patriotic education” campaign to strengthen its legitimacy — but which critics condemn as little more than brainwashing.

The ideological push has intensified since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012, as the leader has stressed infusing every aspect of Chinese education with “patriotic spirit”.

The current regulations allow the national anthem to be played only during formal diplomatic occasions, major sporting events and international gatherings — making the song off-limits at weddings, funerals and various forms of “private entertainment”.

Xinhua noted the historic roots of “March of the Volunteers,” originally a battle song encouraging the nation’s children to fight courageously against invaders.

In recent years the use of the anthem has fallen into “chaos,” Xinhua said, with some people laughing or making a ruckus during the song.

Social media users on Weibo – China’s Twitter-like microblogging website – expressed their support for the nascent anthem law.

“I’ve been waiting for this,” wrote one commentator.

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“People are always singing the national anthem for fun, as if it’s a regular song. I will take the lead in reporting these people, this bunch of trash, who don’t even have respect for their homeland!”

Others joked about what it would mean for the musically inept.

“So will I be thrown in jail if I sing off-key?” one user asked.

The bill is expected to be submitted for its first reading in June.

© AFP 2017

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