The latest news from the Chinese government might change the way you think, and, most likely, listen to, the national anthem of the People’s Republic of China. In an official note, the General Office of China’s State Council issued new guidelines on when, how, and where the义勇军进行曲, (“March of the Volunteers”, the Chinese national anthem) should be sung, says Want China Times.
To begin with, the announcement spells out which occasions are worthy of the March: important national festivities such as the National day, political assemblies, official diplomatic events, and outstanding events, including when a Chinese national wins gold in international sport events, of course. You might want to change your plans if you wanted to play it at a special but private event, as it is ruled out on private weddings and funerals, dancing parties, commercial events, or any other setting with “an inappropriate atmosphere”.
The rules then go into details of the behavior one should hold when the March is playing: no clapping, talking, whispering and the like, no walking, and no answering the phone whatsoever. One should dress properly and contribute to create a solemn ambiance, singing loudly from beginning to end – stopping or starting at random is forbidden, too.
Notably, altering official lyrics and tune is now illegal too, as strange as this may sound to Americans, who have heard many versions of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, including Jimi Hendrix’s and Whitney Houston’s. (Could it be that Xi did not enjoy the Venezuelan version?)
Although any official announcement of punishments has yet to be released, the note says indeed punishments there will be.
Such rules are completely new to mainland China and Hong Kong, but Macao sets a precedent. The SAR has had rules on the singing of the March since its reunion with China in 1999: altering the tune or lyrics, or the use of Portuguese subtitles may well account for up to 3 years imprisonment or fines, according to law n°5/1999, art. 7.
Chinese netizens, as usual, are having fun with the news. One widely re-posted comment reads: “At least banning the national anthem at funerals makes sense, as the first verse ‘Arise! All those who refuse to be slaves!’ would be so inappropriate. Singing that line to an open casket would just be creepy!'”