Qian Gang: In Modern China, No Place for Totalitarian Anthems

On China Media Project, Qian Gang analyzes the four anthems that were sung during the festivities for the 60th National Day celebrations:

Mao, Deng, Jiang and Hu were all represented together during the festivities. And in fact, the ceremonies included two anthems symbolic of Hu Jintao’s leadership.

“Oh, Lovely Land,” which accompanied the massive portrait of Hu, is perhaps not an anthem in praise of him personally, but praises him indirectly as a leader who “governs for the people”:

The ordinary people are the earth;
The ordinary people are the sky.

“On the Sunny Road,” which Peng Liyuan (彭丽媛) sang over the grandiose fireworks display, was a clear and conscientious choice:

On the sunny road,
In the air the banners soar.
Scientific development and harmony,
Guide China to brighter shores.

“Scientific development” and the “harmonious society” are of course markers of Hu Jintao. They are his political banners.

These four songs — or five — all fall into China’s tradition of what can be called “song politics,” or gequ zhengzhi (歌曲政治). They mark the intersection of high-level power plays and political slogans with the realm of culture and popular entertainment.

They are also relics of the totalitarian era.

Watch Peng Liyuan perform “On the Sunny Road”:


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