Chinese Pianist Performs Anti-American Anthem At White House
March 7th, 2011
By: Daniel Bates
A Chinese pianist struck a sour note at a White House state dinner with a rendition of a well-known anti-American anthem.
With the Chinese and U.S. presidents among the dozens of dignitaries watching, Lang Lang belted out ‘My Motherland’, the theme tune to the Chinese-made Korean War film ‘Battle on Shangangling Mountain’.
The song has been a propaganda tool in China for decades and includes a disparaging reference to Americans as ‘jackals’ who will be shot with hunting rifles.
It is likely that Chinese President Hu Jintao and his delegation would have picked up on the reference, even if Barack Obama and the rest of the Americans did not at the time.
Speaking afterwards Lang Lang made no apology for his choice.
‘Playing this song praising China to heads of state from around the world seems to tell them that our China is formidable, that our Chinese people are united; I feel deeply honored and proud,’ he said.
Lang Lang’s performance came at the state dinner for President Hu during his recent official visit to the US.
It referred to a 1952 battle during the Korean War in which Chinese forces fought off repeated American and Korean attacks on Triangle Hill in Kimhwa, North Korea.
Four years later the events were turned into a Chinese-made film called ‘Battle on Shangangling Mountain’ which portrays a group of Chinese troops keeping the enemy at bay until reinforcements arrive.
The main song is ‘My Motherland’ which is sung by a young woman to injured troops includes a number of controversial lyrics including: ‘When friends are here, there is fine wine / But if the jackal comes / What greets it is the hunting rifle.’ The ‘jackal’ in the song is the United States.
The unabashed show of patriotism brought a strong reaction from some Chinese.
‘Those American folks very much enjoyed it and were totally infatuated with the melody!!! The US is truly stupid!!’ wrote one China-based blogger.
Yang Jingduan, a Chinese psychiatrist now living in Philadelphia, added: ‘’My Motherland’ having been played at the White House will be seen as a propaganda triumph in China.
‘In the eyes of all Chinese, this will not be seen as anything other than a big insult to the U.S.
‘It’s like insulting you in your face and you don’t know it, it’s humiliating.’
But another Chinese blogger said: ‘Suppose for a moment that Obama was invited to a banquet in China, and he invited an American artist who had performed in China for many years to play an American war song against China, what kind of reaction do you think the Chinese government and people would have?’
It is not clear if Lang Lang’s choice was indeed his own selection, although it is unlikely the Chinese ruling CCP party would have been unaware.
In interviews he claimed he was motivated by nothing more than national pride.
‘I thought to play ‘My Motherland’ because I think playing the tune at the White House banquet can help us, as Chinese people, feel extremely proud of ourselves and express our feelings through the song. I think it’s especially good,’ he said.
‘Also, I like the tune in and of itself, every time I hear it I feel extremely moved.’ The White House declined to comment on the choice of the song.