Freeing Chinese Folk Songs From Party Propaganda

The author of this article left China and settled down overseas many years ago. Although I study foreign books and have learnt another language, like many other Chinese citizens who now live abroad the five-thousand-year old Chinese culture is still rooted deep in our hearts. It's not just the Chinese food we eat, but it is reflected in our love for traditional Chinese drama, dance and music. However, what embarrasses me is that the songs we sing are not traditional Chinese songs but fake ones that have been distorted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Then what are "fake folk songs"? They have the form and tune of folk songs but contain the culture of the Chinese Communist Party and socialist ideology. This is described euphemistically as "filling new wine into old bottles." Take for example a typical love song from northern Shaanxi Province, which is frequently quoted and widely loved but has been torn apart and tainted with new words. The original words of love and longing for her lover have been quietly changed to the words depicting people's deep gratitude towards their "great leader" Mao Zedong, the individual responsible for the birth of the party. A folk song from southern Jiangxi Province, which depicts a scene where a wife is seeing her husband off. However, the moving scene and admiration has been changed to "infinite love" for the Red Army (the predecessor of the present Chinese People's Liberation Army). Whenever these folk songs have been filled with "revolutionary contents" no one dares to sing the original words any longer. If you continue to sing or pass it on, you would be considered having a "political problem." After one or two generations, the original words of these songs will have been forgotten and the party songs and music have taken their place and are labelled as "national classics". The party culture has virtually become the national culture. This in essence has destroyed the Chinese national culture but in the dictionary of the CCP it is misleadingly called "carrying forward" the national culture.

The way the CCP has used these fake folk songs to instill the party culture is very well concealed. On one hand, these songs have been perfected generation after generation, therefore they are all characterised with beautiful melodies. They are smooth and easy to sing. As a result, they are quite suitable for popularisation. This is why the Chinese Communist Party had almost no trouble in pushing the party culture in the form of folk songs ever so quickly. On the other hand, the folk songs have rich local cultural flavor and are closely related to the life of the local residents, therefore they have a natural affinity for them. Once they have been plagiarised into "revolutionary songs" their affinity would easily create a false appearance of people having "deep affections for the party". This is one of the methods the CCP has been using to create a false popular will. When the author was a child and learnt to sing these fake folk songs in school representing various nationalities in China, he even naively believed these songs were created spontaneously by various nationalities out of their "love for the party" and naturally thought the people from all corners of China all "love the party" from the bottom of their heart.

As a matter of fact, the most prominent characteristic of these sham folk songs is that none of them are spontaneously created and passed on by the people. They have all been, without exception, directly crafted or "recreated" by the party's "art workers" after plagiarising the essence of the national music and stuffing it with party culture contents.

The "Boat Song of the Wusuli River" sang by the Hezhe National Minority was a typical example. It has been "recreated" having being stuffed with party culture contents. The author used to love to sing this song. The melody of the song comes from a folk song of the Hezhe National Minority. Its sonorous, sweet and beautiful melody was basically accepted and loved by almost everyone without any reservation. This is because the composer stole the essence from the folk song and used it as the boat song's main melody. The contents of the party culture have been ambiguously hidden in the last two paragraphs of the song - "Speed up the rowing and steady the helm to win a year of bumper harvest with both of our hands. Hezhe people have embarked on the road of happiness and the people's state power will last forever." Its aim is to hint that the "party leads the people to embark on the road to happiness," which shares the same meaning of today's "main melody, harmonious movement".

This song was created in 1962 when the Chinese people just experienced the most severe famine in the human history. More than 10 million people died of hunger. Though the CCP described it as the "three years of natural disasters." Even today, when the As a matter of fact, the most prominent characteristic of these sham folk songs is that none of them are spontaneously created and passed on by the people. They have all been, without exception, directly crafted or "recreated" by the party's "art workers" after plagiarising the essence of the national music and stuffing it with party culture contents. can no longer continue to shamelessly call it three years of natural disasters, it still describes it as the "three difficult years". Today's researchers have checked all the historical records and found that during 1959 to 1961 the weather was no different than any other normal years. Although there were some droughts or floods in some areas, the natural disasters in the country as a whole had no marked increase. However, the areas of disaster and the number of population involved were unprecedented. The disasters were actually the result of human error. At the time the CCP dragged the manpower away from the fields to make iron and steel. Exaggeration became common practise. Because the quota of grain delivered to the state was set too high, the rural population had no grain for themselves. Besides everyone ate in the canteen free of charge and finally they even ate all the seeds. In the international arena, the Chinese Communist Party and the Soviet Union each went its own way ideologically. At the time the CCP was beset with crises both at home and abroad. In order to relief its crises and deceive the people, they urgently needed "artists of the party" to beautify "socialism" and present a false picture of "peace and prosperity". The Boat Song of Wusuli River which "sang the praise of hometown and life" was published. The composers of the song might not have had the intention to cover up the CCP's crimes. However, these "artists of the party" themselves were soaked with the party culture, so they would naively believe that the severe famine was a result of a "natural disaster" and the "blockade" by the Soviet revisionism. In turn they created art works of the party culture to poison people's minds and help the party to tide over the crisis.

During the 50 years of communist rule, this type of folk art work possessed by the party culture can be found everywhere. Today, the "classical charts" of the folk songs from various Chinese national minorities are full of such works. After a large number of fake folk songs had been spread around, the Chinese people began to take the party culture as the national culture. This is one of the reasons why many Chinese can not distinguish between the CCP and China.

The vitalisation of the nation needs a profound base of national culture. The items that enter the International Chinese Vocal Competition run by the New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) are authentic Chinese folk songs. The aim of the competition is to rectify the origin of the folk songs and discard the fake folk songs of the party culture and is therefore worth the support of the event by all Chinese people.

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