The East Is Red (song)
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"The East Is Red" (simplified Chinese: 东方红; traditional Chinese: 東方紅; pinyin: Dōngfāng Hóng) is a song that was the de facto anthem of the People's Republic of China during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. The lyrics of the song were attributed to Li Youyuan, a farmer from northern Shaanxi, and the melody was derived from a local folk song. He allegedly got his inspiration upon seeing the rising sun in the morning of a sunny day.
The lyrics of "The East is Red" idealize Mao Zedong, and Mao's popularization of "The East is Red" was one of his earliest efforts to promote his image as a perfect hero in Chinese popular culture after the Korean War. In 1956, a political commissar suggested to China's defense minister, Peng Dehuai, that the song be taught to Chinese troops, but Peng opposed Mao's propaganda, saying "That is a personality cult! That is idealism!" Peng's opposition to "The East is Red", and to Mao's incipient personality cult in general, contributed to Mao purging Peng in 1959. After Peng was purged, Mao accelerated his efforts to build his personality cult, and by 1966 succeeded in having "The East is Red" sung in place of China's national anthem.
The song was played through PA systems in every city and village at dawn and at dusk. A broadcast show usually began with the song "The East Is Red", and ended with the song "The Internationale". Students were obliged to sing the song in unison every morning at the very beginning of the first class of the day. During that period, Tian Han, the author of the official anthem "The March of the Volunteers", was imprisoned, and so that song was not used.
Because of its associations with the Cultural Revolution, the song was rarely heard after the rise of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. Today in China the song is considered[by whom?] a somewhat unseemly reminder of the cult of personality associated with Mao and has largely been replaced by the "March of the Volunteers", whose lyrics mention neither the Communist Party nor Mao. "The East is Red" is still commonly heard in recordings played by electronic cigarette lighters bearing Mao's face that are popular with tourists.
The tune of "The East Is Red" is played in chimes every daylight hour from the Customs House clock tower on the Bund in Shanghai and from the Drum Tower in Xi'an. It is also heard at the top of every hour at the Beijing Railway Station.[clarification needed]
|Simplified Chinese||Traditional Chinese||Pinyin||English translation|
Dōngfāng hóng, tàiyáng shēng,
The east is red, the sun rises.
The original lyrics are from an old folk song from Shanxi about farming:
|Zhīmayóu, báicài xīn,
Yào chī dòujiǎo ma chōujīn jīn.
|Sesame oil, cabbage hearts,
Wanna eat string beans, break off the tips,
In popular culture
- The song title became the name of a 1970s wargame by Simulations Publications, Inc.
- China across Radio stations have been using the "The East is Red" as the interval signal, at present the China Radio International and Xinjiang People Radio Station using the "The East is Red" as the interval signal.
- Without the Communist Party, There Would Be No New China
- Ode to the Motherland
- Sailing the Seas Depends on the Helmsman
- Cultural Revolution
- Dong Fang Hong I
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- Domes, Jurgen. Peng Te-huai: The Man and the Image, London: C. Hurst & Company. 1985. ISBN 0-905838-99-8. p. 72
- "Embalming Mao", http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/10/22/1098316847424.html, accessed 2008-05-04
- "Transformation of a Love Song", http://www.morningsun.org/east/song.swf, accessed 2010-09-19