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Story Behind Early Recording of Chinese National Anthem - Hualu

Updated: June 18, 2021


A vinyl record is turning on an old record player, playing a thumping and inspiring rendition of March of the Volunteers that was adopted as the provisional national anthem in 1949.

The vinyl record was first produced in Shanghai during China's resistance against Japan in 1935 when many Chinese literary and art workers had gathered there to create patriotic works that would inspire Chinese people against Japan's aggression.

March of the Volunteers was one of the songs cradled in that era.

It was written by the poet and playwright Tian Han, and the composer Nie Er for the film Children of Trouble Time.

It was extremely dangerous to get involved in patriotic campaigns at that time as the Kuomingtang government, who wanted to wipe out the forces of the Communist Party of China and other democratic parties to maintain its rule of the country, would judge the campaigns to be led by the CPC.

People participating in such activities would be arrested by the Kuomingtang government.

Tian was imprisoned in February 1935 before the film script was completed and Nie was forced to move to another country.

Before he left China, Nie completed the first draft of the song and shared it with Ren Guang and Situ Huimin. Carrying the seeds of the song, Nie left Shanghai on April 15, 1935.

The renewed staff was sent back later and Ren shouldered the mission to record the song.

What's frustrating was that there was no professional chorus willing to record the song for fear of the political condition.

Therefore, Situ, the recorder, inspired several patriotic youths and formed a temporary chorus.

On May 9, 1935, the song, which records the Chinese people's iron-will, dignity and unyielding spirit, was finally recorded successfully and was later made popular nationwide through the film.

It was played as the National Anthem at the founding ceremony of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

(Executive editor: Wang Ruoting)