20 May 2019
Chinese weddings will have to do without the national anthem, even when masses of citizens are involved. Photo: Xinhua
Chinese weddings will have to do without the national anthem, even when masses of citizens are involved. Photo: Xinhua

China bans its own national anthem

When it comes to putting the kibosh on things, the folks at Zhongnanhai have few peers.

China has seen fit to ban puns, long beards, zombies, American pork, British cheese, clams from Alaska, Islamic-style clothing, TV programs that feature one-night stands, April Fools jokes, Bitcoin, film stars who use drugs or pay for sex, Windows 8, smoking in public places, the entire Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

And that was just this year.

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 Communist 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 party in power.

To be fair, China did lift the bans on gaming consoles, Brazilian beef and Lady Gaga this year, 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, Xinhua 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 the new rules, the anthem is to be reserved for major political and diplomatic occasions, as well as places such as sporting arenas and schools, the BBC reported.

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, the government said.

CNN noted that the new rules require people to 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”, Xinhua said.

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

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A strategist and marketing consultant on China business

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