China lawmaker wants ban on ‘American’ gesture during national anthem

Legislator says placing hand on the heart during the ‘March of the Volunteers’ is too American and Chinese citizens should respect the country’s own culture

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 June, 2017, 12:49pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 June, 2017, 2:29pm

A lawmaker has sparked a heated debate online in China after he suggested that people should stop putting their hand on the heart while singing the national anthem because it was too “American”.

Chen Guoling, a member of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, said Chinese citizens should refrain from the gesture when singing the March of the Volunteers because it was an American way of showing respect, The Beijing News reported.

Chen’s comments came as the national legislature is drafting legislation to protect the national anthem against “abuses”.

China drafts law to ban ‘rampant abuse’ of its national anthem, March of the Volunteers

The proposed legislation includes barring the playing of the anthem during advertisements or as background music in public places.

Chen was quoted as saying placing a hand on the heart comes from the US flag code, but young people in China, especially athletes, follow it blindly.

Chen said Chinese citizens should drop the gesture and respect Chinese law and etiquette instead.

He proposed adding to the legislation: “Citizens must not make any posture, including foreign, religious or self-made” during the playing of the national anthem.

Terrible rendition of China’s national anthem makes Venezuelan military band a laughing stock

If singing the national anthem while the country’s flag is raised, people must watch the flag and uniformed police officers or the military should salute throughout the ceremony, the draft legislation states.

Some internet users, however, were unhappy with the suggested ban on placing a hand over the heart. One person commented: “The rule is American, but the feeling is universal.”

Another person said: “Doesn’t it signify that I put the motherland close to my heart?”

Pictures have circulated online of the table tennis player Chen Qi placing his hand on his heart while singing the national anthem at championships.

He criticised moves to ban the gesture: “Don’t insult my love for my country and my team,” he wrote on social media.