Chinese National Anthem

About China National Anthem

March of the Volunteers is the national anthem of the People's Republic of China (including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region since July 1, 1997 and the Macau Special Administrative Region since December 20, 1999), written by the noted poet and playwright Tian Han with music composed by Nie Er. This composition is a musical march. The piece was first performed as part of a 1934 Shanghai play and its original lyrics are the official lyrics of the national anthem. In 2004, a provision that the March of the Volunteers be the national anthem was added to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China as Article 136.

March of the Volunteers was written by Tian Han during the 1934 Republic of China era for a play he was writing at the time. Popular stories suggest, however, that he wrote it on a tobacco paper after being arrested in Shanghai and thrown into a Kuomintang (KMT) jail in 1935. The song, with a minor alteration, became the theme song of the 1935 patriotic film Sons and Daughters in a Time of Storm, a story about an intellectual who leaves to fight in the Second Sino-Japanese War. It was one of many songs that were promoted secretly among the population as part of the anti-Japanese resistance. The song was released as an album by the Pathé label of EMI in 1935. It was used as the national anthem for the first time in an international conference in February 1949 held in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

At the time Beijing had recently come into the control of the Chinese Communists in the Chinese Civil War. There was controversy over the line "The Chinese nation faces its greatest peril". Historian Guo Moruo changed the line to "The Chinese people have come to their moment of emancipation". In June, a committee was set up by the Communist Party of China to decide on an official national anthem for the soon-to-be declared People's Republic of China. By the end of August, the committee had received 6,926 submissions. March of the Volunteers was suggested by painter Xu Beihong and almost unanimously supported by the members of the committee.

There was contention, however, over the issue of the third line. On this Zhou Enlai made the conclusive judgement: "We still have imperialist enemies in front of us. The more we progress in development, the more the imperialists will hate us, seek to undermine us, attack us. Can you say that we won't be in peril?" His view was supported by Mao Zedong and on 27 September 1949, the song became the provisional national anthem, just days before the founding of the People's Republic of China.