A tale of dueling anthems and the uprisings in China

Would you like a little humor in your day? Two Chinese political battles raging right now in real-time are linked by the most delicious and hilarious irony. They are (1) The Battle of the Lockdowns, and (2) the Battle of the Anthems.

Currently, the Battle of the Lockdowns is front-page stuff all over the world. Chinese citizens are furious at the continued forced “COVID Zero” lockdowns and are rising up, demanding that both Chairman Xi and the Chinese Communist Party step down. This German news source is a good presentation of the lockdown news of the day:

Meanwhile, the Battle of the Anthems arose in Hong Kong during the massive protests in 2019, when citizens revolted against a proposed law that would give the Chinese government unrestrained power to extradite Hong Kong citizens to mainland China. The scope of those protests and demonstrations can be seen here and, please, note all those umbrellas:

Those same umbrellas created the moniker “The Umbrella Movement” for the protests. (A detailed history of the entire movement is nicely recorded in the book Umbrella: A Political Tale From Hong Kong, by Kong Tsung-Gan.) The umbrellas are understandable because police met the demonstrators with water cannons and tear gas. This further outraged the protestors and fueled continuing demonstrations.  And yet, despite the brutality meted out to them, the protesters retained their humanity. One of the most charming visuals was captured by a video showing the massed thousands of demonstrators dividing like the Red Sea to allow an ambulance to pass through the crowd, only to close their ranks again behind it:

In the heat of the Hong Kong conflict, the protestors created and adopted an anthem, entitled “Glory to Hong Kong”. Here is a version of the anthem in Cantonese, with the performers in battle gear:

(Here is a version that shows the lyrics in English.)

Naturally, the People’s Republic of China has its rousing national anthem, “The March of the Volunteers.”

So, what do these two anthems—one from the oppressive communist regime in mainland China and the other from those in Hong Kong protesting that same regime—have to do with current events in China? In a symbolic way, it turns out that the answer is “a lot.”

In a November 19 article from Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, we learn that, at sporting events, those two anthems keep getting mixed up:

The Chinese national anthem was mixed up with a Hong Kong protest song at two more sporting events overseas, it emerged on Saturday, less than a week after a similar blunder in South Korea angered the city’s government and sparked a police investigation.

So, you may ask, where is the delicious hilarious humorous irony I promised in the opening sentence? That lies in the lyrics of the Official Chinese Anthem, “The March of the Volunteers.”  The very opening phrase of those lyrics is “Arise Ye who refuse to be slaves!”

Which, of course, is precisely what the Chinese Lockdown protestors are doing!

Image: Protest in China. YouTube screen grab.

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