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National Anthem

Chinese Culture: Chinese National Anthem

China's National Anthem

The Chinese National Anthem (中国国歌) is called 'The March of The Volunteers' (义勇军进行曲). The Chinese National Anthem is popularly believed to have been written on a tobacco paper by leftwing poet Tian Han as he rotted in a Nationalist jail cell in Shanghai in 1935. In reality, he wrote it the year before for a play. The music was composed by Nie Er.

Most educational establishments have a flag raising ceremony at the beginning of the week where you can hear patriotic students belting out the lyrics. In the old days it would have been sung in every factory at the start of the shift - no more.

Nie Er died whilst swimming in Japan in 1935. Tian Han was a victim of Cultural Revolution purges and died in prison. The song itself first gained popularity among the anti-Japanese resistance during the Sino Japanese War (1937-1945). It was officially adopted by the CCP as the National Anthem in 1949. It suffered setbacks during the Cultural Revolution when it's author Tian Han was imprisoned, but is now back and firmly entrenched as the National Anthem.

Here are the lyrics in English and Chinese.

Arise! All who refuse to be slaves!
With our flesh and blood let us build our new Great Wall!
When the Chinese Nation faces its greatest peril,
Let us send a last cry in her defence! (Lit: Everyone is forced to send out their last cry)
Arise! Arise! Arise!
Our 10,000 hearts beat as one!
Brave the enemy's fire, March on!
Brave the enemy's fire, March on!
March on! March on! On!