March of the Volunteers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Chinese national anthem" redirects here. For historical national anthems of China, see Historical Chinese anthems.
English: March of the Volunteers
Yìyǒngjūn Jìnxíngqǔ
Original album released by Pathé Records of Shanghai.

National anthem of  People's Republic of China
 Hong Kong

Lyrics Tian Han, 1934
Music Nie Er, 1935
Adopted 1949-09-27 (provisional national anthem in mainland China)[1]
1982-12-04 (official status)
1997-07-01 (in Hong Kong)[2]
1999-12-20 (In Macau)[3]
2004-03-14 (Attained constitutional status)[4]
Music sample
March of the Volunteers
Traditional Chinese 義勇軍進行曲
Simplified Chinese 义勇军进行曲
Tian Han (right) and Nie Er (left) in Shanghai, 1933

March of the Volunteers (simplified Chinese: 义勇军进行曲; traditional Chinese: 義勇軍進行曲; pinyin: Yìyǒngjūn Jìnxíngqǔ; Wade–Giles: Iyungchün Chinhsingch'ü) is the national anthem of the People's Republic of China (Hong Kong SAR since 1 July 1997, and Macau SAR since 20 December 1999), written by the 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.[5]

Origins as national anthem[edit]

The earliest form of the 1935 Volunteers Marching On anthem still in the pre-PRC traditional Chinese characters in the Canton Gazette .[6] newspaper

March of the Volunteers was composed by Nie Er to a text by Tian Han in 1934.[7] Popular stories suggest, however, that Tian wrote it on a tobacco paper after being arrested in Shanghai and thrown into a Kuomintang (KMT) jail in 1935. The song was featured as the theme song of the 1935 patriotic film Sons and Daughters in a Time of Storm, also known as "Children of the Storm," a story about an intellectual who leaves to fight in the Second Sino-Japanese War. The song was later used in Frank Capra's propaganda film, The Battle of China. It was one of many songs that were promoted secretly among the population as part of the anti-Japanese resistance during the "left-wing cinema movement" (1931–37).[8] 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 under the control of the Chinese Communists in the Chinese Civil War. There was controversy over the line "The Chinese people faces their greatest peril". Historian Guo Moruo changed the line to "The Chinese people have come to their moment of emancipation" (中國民族到了大翻身的時候).[9]

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 judgment: "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.

Cultural Revolution and later history[edit]

Sheet music from Appendix 4 of Law n.o 5/1999 of Macau
Movie clip. Including "The March of the Volunteers".

During the Cultural Revolution, Tian Han was imprisoned, and the March of the Volunteers was therefore forbidden to be sung; as a result there was a period of time when "The East Is Red" was used as the unofficial national anthem. The anthem began to be played once again from the 20th National Day Parade in 1969 onward.[citation needed]

The March of the Volunteers was restored by the National People's Congress in 1978, but with different lyrics, which ended with "raise high Chairman Mao's banner". On 4 December 1982, the National People's Congress resolved to restore the original 1935 version by Tian Han as the official national anthem. Notably, the lyrics do not mention either the Communist Party of China or Mao Zedong and the reversion of the lyrics was symbolic of the downfall of Hua Guofeng and the cult of personality of Mao and the ascendancy of Deng Xiaoping.[citation needed]

The National People's Congress made the song the official PRC anthem in a 2004 amendment of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. The anthem is mentioned immediately after the national flag.

Although popular among Nationalists during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the song was banned in the Republic of China (Taiwan) until the 1990s.[citation needed]

The anthem was performed in an official capacity in Hong Kong for the first time[10] following the handover of the territory to the PRC in 1997, and the handover of Macau in 1999. The English translation was then adopted by the University of Hong Kong for significant events such as graduation ceremonies.

The use of the anthem in Macau, China is governed in Law n.o 5/1999 (zh:第5/1999號法律, pt:Lei de Macau 5 de 1999) since 20 December 1999. Article 7 of the Law requires the national anthem to be accurately performed pursuant to the sheet music in Appendix 4 and prohibits the lyrics from being altered. Willfully failing to follow the sheet music or altering the lyric when performing the national anthem in public is criminally punishable by imprisonment of up to 3 years or up to 360 day-fines. The sheet music in Appendix 4 has the lyric in Chinese only without Portuguese translation even though both Chinese and Portuguese are official languages of Macau. There are no analogous laws in Hong Kong or in mainland China.

The anthem is written completely in Vernacular Chinese, while the "National Anthem of the Republic of China" is written in Classical Chinese.


Original lyrics (currently in use)[edit]

Simplified[11] Traditional Pinyin English translation



Qǐlái! Búyuàn zuò núlì de rénmen!
Bǎ wǒmen de xuèròu, zhùchéng wǒmen xīn de chángchéng!
Zhōnghuá mínzú dào liǎo zuì wēixiǎn de shíhòu.
Měi ge rén bèipò zhe fāchū zuìhòu de hǒushēng.
Qǐlái! Qǐlái! Qǐlái!
Wǒmen wànzhòng yìxīn,
Màozhe dírén de pàohuǒ, qiánjìn!
Màozhe dírén de pàohuǒ, qiánjìn!
Qiánjìn! Qiánjìn! Jìn!

Arise! All those who refuse to be slaves!
Let our flesh and blood forge our new Great Wall!
The Chinese nation has arrived at its most perilous time.
Every person is forced to expel his very last roar.
Arise! Arise! Arise!
One million hearts beating as one,
Brave the enemy's fire, March on!
Brave the enemy's fire, March on!
March on! March on! On!

Lyrics in use from 1978 to 1982[edit]

Simplified[12][13] Traditional Pinyin English Translation

前进! 前进! 进!

前進! 前進!進!

Qiánjìn! Gè mínzú yīngxióng de rénmín,
Wěidà de Gòngchǎndǎng lǐngdǎo wǒmen jìxù chángzhēng.
Wànzhòngyīxīn bēnxiàng gòngchǎnzhǔyì míngtiān,
Jiànshè zǔgúo bǎowèi zǔgúo yīngyǒng de dòuzhēng.
Qiánjìn! Qiánjìn! Qiánjìn!
Wǒmen qiānqīuwàndài
Gāojǔ Máo Zédōng qízhì, Qiánjìn!
Gāojǔ Máo Zédōng qízhì, Qiánjìn!
Qiánjìn! Qiánjìn! Jìn!

March on! All heroic ethnic groups!
The great Communist Party leads us in continuing the Long March,
Millions with but one heart toward a communist tomorrow,
Bravely struggle to develop and protect the motherland.
March on, march on, march on!
We will for many generations,
Raise high Mao Zedong's banner, march on!
Raise high Mao Zedong's banner, march on!
March on! March on! On!

*The rhythm in these lines is actually slightly altered as Gòngchǎndǎng has an additional syllable than xuèròu in original lyrics.

Musical references[edit]

The tune has been referenced in other musical compositions:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Per Resolution on the Capital, Calendar, National Anthem and National Flag of the People's Republic of China.
  2. ^ Per Annex III of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region when the Resolution on the Capital (Beijing), Calendar, National Anthem and National Flag of the People's Republic of China would be applied in Hong Kong with effect from 1 July 1997 by way of promulgation or legislation by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
  3. ^ Per Annex III of the Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region when the Resolution on the Capital, Calendar, National Anthem and National Flag of the People's Republic of China would be applied in Macao with effect from 20 December 1999 by way of promulgation or legislation by the Macao Special Administrative Region. On the same day, Law n.o 5/1999 (zh:第5/1999號法律, pt:Lei de Macau 5 de 1999) became effective to regulate the anthem.
  4. ^ Per Article 31 of the Amendment four of the Constitution of the People's Repu of China
  5. ^ "China - March of the Volunteers". Retrieved 2011-11-25. 
  6. ^ "HKFA". Retrieved 2011-12-18. 
  7. ^ Malm, William. Music Cultures of the Pacific, the Near East, and Asia. 3. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, 1996. 1-278. Print., p.197.
  8. ^ Pang, Laikwan. Building a new China in cinema: the Chinese left-wing cinema movement, 1932-1937. Rowman & Littlefield Pub Inc, 2002. Print., p.3
  9. ^ Simplified Chinese: 中国民族到了大翻身的时候; Pinyin: Zhōngguó mínzú dàole dà fānshēn deshíhòu
  10. ^[not in citation given]
  11. ^ The PRC anthem from the PRC's official government webportal (
  12. ^ "" 新中國國歌歌詞改換風波 . Retrieved on 2009-09-27.
  13. ^ "" 國歌歌詞曾是高舉毛澤東旗幟前進. Retrieved on 2009-09-27.
  14. ^ "Paul Robeson and "The March of the Volunteers"". Retrieved 2011-12-18. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ "Music - Review of Monkey - Journey to the West". BBC. Retrieved 2011-12-18. 

External links[edit]