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The Most Important Moment of China's State Visit

12:33 PM, Jan 27, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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According to Nicholas Eberstadt, the most important moment of China's president Hu Jintao's state visit to Washington last week came when, as Kelly Jane Torrance previously noted, pianist Lang Lang played "My Motherland," which is "a Mao-era propaganda classic." Eberstadt writes:

How to evaluate the results of last week’s China-U.S. summit in Washington? Improbably, the key for the entire event may lie in what is usually the least memorable portion of these carefully choreographed occasions: the cultural program at the concluding state banquet.

During the dinner’s musical interlude and following a duet with American jazz musician Herbie Hancock, Chinese pianist Lang Lang treated the assembled dignitaries to a solo of what he described as “a Chinese song: ‘My Motherland.’” (You can watch this on YouTube.)

The Chinese delegation was clearly delighted: Chinese President and Communist Party chief Hu Jintao, stone-faced for many of his other photo ops in Washington, beamed with pleasure upon hearing the melody and embraced Lang Lang at the song’s conclusion (see it on YouTube too). President Obama, for his part, amiably praised Lang Lang for his performance and described the event as "an extraordinary evening."

But what, exactly, is this “gorgeous” and “beautiful” (Hu’s words) tune that so entranced China’s visiting leadership?

“My Motherland” is not a “Chinese song” in any ordinary meaning of the term. Instead, it is a Mao-era propaganda classic: the theme from "Triangle Hill" (Shangganling), a film in which heroic Chinese forces fight, kill, and eventually beat Americans in pitched battle during the Korean War.

Whole thing here.

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