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Chinese Pianist Plays Propaganda Tune at White House

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Lang Lang, a Chinese pianist, plays the piano at the White House on Jan. 19, 2011. The music he is playing is the theme song from an anti-American propaganda movie about the Korean War.

US humiliated in eyes of Chinese by song used to inspire anti-Americanism.

From the beginning of his Presidency, Barack Obama has been criticized for bowing to foreign heads of state.

But those missteps are nothing compared to the insult hurled at America by a Chinese pianist in the White House.

According to an article at The Blaze, America was humiliated when Lang Lang played the theme from a 1956 Chinese war movie entitled Battle on Shangganling Mountain, a propaganda film from the Korean War.

Matthew Robertson writes at The Epoch Times that:

Lang Lang the pianist says he chose it. Chairman Hu Jintao recognized it as soon as he heard it. Patriotic Chinese Internet users were delighted as soon as they saw the videos online. Early morning TV viewers in China knew it would be played an hour or two beforehand. At the White House State dinner on Jan. 19, about six minutes into his set, Lang Lang began tapping out a famous anti-American propaganda melody from the Korean War: the theme song to the movie “Battle on Shangganling Mountain.”

The film depicts a group of “People’s Volunteer Army” soldiers who are first hemmed in at Shanganling (or Triangle Hill) and then, when reinforcements arrive, take up their rifles and counterattack the U.S. military “jackals.”

The movie and the song has been used as anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communists for decades.

The New York Times sought to minimize the impact of the song, calling it “regrettable”:

If, in retrospect, “My Motherland” might seem to be a regrettable choice for a state dinner, it clearly was unintentional. Mr. Lang, an American-trained pianist who divides his time between the United States and China, is an artist who melds American and Chinese cultures.

But Robertson writes that Lang chose the piece, and the Chinese Communist Party likely knew of the choice. In an interview broadcast on Phoenix TV, Lang said:

“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. Also, I like the tune in and of itself, every time I hear it I feel extremely moved.”

According to Robertson, the Phoenix TV interview was taped before the White House event. Lang was more frank on a Chinese-language blog, writing:

“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.”

Did the White House staff understand the nature of the song when it was played? Worse yet, do they realize that people in China see this as a propaganda victory against an old enemy?

Yang Jingduan is a Chinese psychiatrist now living in Philadelphia who once served as a doctor in the Chinese military. “It’s like insulting you in your face and you don’t know it, it’s humiliating,” he said, according to the Epoch Times.

In China, young people are taught that the United States lost the Korean War, even though the War officially never ended.

Robertson writes that while most in China appear to support Lang’s choice and revel in the insult handed to America, some expressed more moderate views:

Another Chinese commenting on a forum responded to the Lang Lang performance by writing, “Defeat America, defeat Obama” (writing Obama’s name with the wrong first character, one meaning “sunken” or “dented.”)

Others wrote comments like: “omg!”; “Didn’t they know?”; “Where was the U.S. foreign affairs?” and “Very good. My impression of Lang Lang has really changed.”

More moderate Chinese have expressed disappointment at the attitudes of their countrymen.

A sinovision blog quotes “Professor A” saying : “Everyone knows this Shangganling is from a ‘Resist America, Support Korea’ film, and I think Lang Lang would know that too. If he knew the song’s background and still chose to play it, then you can guess his motivation, or intellectual capacity. If he didn’t know, then mainland China’s education system is in more of a mess than I thought…

“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? … I think the American government still doesn’t know the background of this song—if they knew, wouldn’t they be offended

This insult demands an apology, and the Administration needs to take a stand. But will they?


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