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Solemn, respectful and cherished: China to tighten rules on how its anthem is sung

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 out of concern that the patriotic ballad is “not universally respected and cherished”, state media reported Tuesday.

china flag

“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 use in advertisements.

Written in 1935 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 drafted legislation will stipulate the tempo at which the song should be played, in which circumstances and moods, and the legal consequences of placing 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 socialist core values”.

The regulations allow the song to be used only during formal diplomatic occasions, major sporting events and international gatherings — making the anthem 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.

communist party soldiers sickle hammer

Paramilitary policemen hold their fists in front of a flag of Communist Party of China as they attend an oath-taking rally to ensure the safety of the upcoming 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), at a military base in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province November 5, 2012. Photo: Reuters/China Daily.

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.

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

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Solemn, respectful and cherished: China to tighten rules on how its anthem is sung