Placing a hand over the heart during the national anthem is common practice for many as a way of showing support for their country; however, one Chinese lawmaker wants the gesture banned in China.
The National People’s Congress Standing Committee met recently to discuss new terms and regulations regarding the Chinese national anthem. During deliberations, one committee member, Chen Guoling, proposed that putting your hand over your heart during the “March of the Volunteers” should be prohibited by Chinese law because the gesture originated in the United States and has no history in China.
“Young people always put their right hands over their hearts under the national anthem, especially certain sports players. But it is not acceptable as this is an act originated from America in 1942. Americans do this to salute the US,” Chen said according to CGTN.
“We should follow Chinese manners and Chinese rules,” he added, proposing that a clause be added to the recently-written draft law which bans any gestures “foreign, religious or self-made” during the anthem.
To ensure that the national anthem is treated with the proper amount of respect, Chinese lawmakers have passed restrictions in the past. Back in 2014, the government issued a statement banning the anthem from being played at weddings, funerals and at any non-political sporting event. This saves “March of the Volunteers” for special political occasions, including government meetings, oath ceremonies and flag-raising ceremonies.
The NPC decided on one exception to their restrictions: that the national anthem can and should be played in schools. Committee member Zheng Gongcheng advocated for the anthem to be played at graduation and opening ceremonies, as well as included in music textbooks for young children.
From a very young age, Chines schoolkids are taught to respect their national anthem.
While no specific gesture bans are included yet in the new draft law, it does state that when the national anthem plays, citizens must watch the flag, while uniformed soldiers and police officers salute.
Meanwhile, Chen’s proposal has sparked heated debate on Chinese social media over whether putting your hand over your heart to signal pride and respect for your country is really an American gesture alone.
As one internet user put it: “The rule is American, but the feeling is universal.” While another commenter asked: “Doesn’t it signify that I put the motherland close to my heart?”
Popular athletes have also spoken out against the proposed ban, including Olympic table tennis champion Chen Qi. After pictures circulated of Chen with his hand over his heart at a match, the retired gold medalist defended his team, saying, “Please do not misinterpret our love to the nation!”
Along with the ban on salutes, the NPC also discussed harsher punishments for those who mock or disrespect the national anthem. As of now, those charged with this offense can face detention for up to 15 days, but a few committee members wanted to make the punishments even more severe for those who “maliciously modify the lyrics or play/sing the national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way.”
By Caroline Roy
[Images via CGTN]
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