Chinese Pianist Lang Lang Pleads Innocence; Hu Jintao Silent

January 25, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

Lang Lang, a Chinese pianist, plays the piano at the White House on Friday, Jan. 21. The music he is playing is the theme song from an anti-American propaganda movie about the Korean War. (Screenshot taken from Youtube)
Lang Lang, a Chinese pianist, plays the piano at the White House on Friday, Jan. 21. The music he is playing is the theme song from an anti-American propaganda movie about the Korean War. (Screenshot taken from Youtube)
At the end of the White House dinner honoring Chinese paramount leader Hu Jintao, at which Lang Lang played the Chinese propaganda tune “My Motherland,” the normally stolid Hu gave Lang Lang a hug. Hu was clearly pleased.

In a letter to members of the Congress and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng explained the significance of Lang Lang’s choice of music this way: “The song is the leading anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party. … Is that not an insult to the USA to play such kind of music at a state dinner hosted by the U.S. President? No wonder it made Hu Jintao really happy.”

The Epoch Times has taken the lead in explaining the significance of Lang Lang’s choice of music, and that news has been picked up by media around the world.

In an interview with National Public Radio’s Melissa Block aired on Monday evening, Lang Lang disavowed any political intention behind his choice of music.

He said that he only knows the tune as a “beautiful melody.” When asked by Ms. Block whether he intended to “drop a note of nationalism” into the state dinner, Lang Lang replied, “That’s the last thing I want to do.”

Lang Lang says he grew up as a teenager in the United States and had no idea of the background of the song.

Lang Lang seems to have a short memory. In an interview broadcast in China on Phoenix TV a few hours before the state dinner, Lang Lang said he planned to play the song at the state dinner in order “to help us, as Chinese people, feel extremely proud of ourselves.”

In a blog post later, he elaborated, “Playing this song praising China to heads of state from around the world seems to tell them that our China is formidable, that our Chinese people are united; I feel deeply honored and proud.”

Communicating to heads of state from around the world that China is “formidable” is usually understood as nationalism. And choosing to play the song at the White House in order to make the Chinese people feel “extremely proud” is usually understood as patriotism.

Lang Lang is not singular among Chinese young people in having strong feelings of nationalism and patriotism—inspiring such feelings has been the cornerstone of the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda and claim to legitimacy since 1989, the year of the Tiananmen Square massacre. His playing “My Motherland” fits perfectly into the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) template that formed his thoughts and feelings.

Lang Lang lived his first 14 years in China. This means, for 14 years he was imbued with the CCP’s propaganda, in which “My Motherland” was regularly played.

I am not the only person skeptical of Lang Lang’s after-the-fact claim that he is an apolitical pianist whose only mission, as he told Ms. Block, is “making music.”

Next: Chinese amazed that Lang Lang played a widely known song

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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