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Chinese pianist Lang Lang puzzled his White House song about defeating U.S. military 'jackals' offends

China Peoples Liberation Army poster

Lang Lang.

Gee, those Americans are really touchy.

Who would have thought that a Chinese pianist entertaining at the Obama White House state dinner last week to promote Chinese-American friendship with Chinese President Hu Jintao could possibly offend anyone by tickling the old ivories with a favorite song about the ChDemocrat president Barack Obama and wife Michelle greet China President Hu Jintao at a White House state dinner 1-19-11inese People's Liberation Army enduring great hardships but finally killing sufficient enemy troops to win a 1952 Korean War battle against American soldiers?

What's to be offended by such a musical choice unless, perhaps, you're not a Chinese Korean War vet?

The 28-year-old Chinese pianist Lang Lang says he wanted to "bridge cultures" using music. He attempted to explain his musical choice by saying: "It has been a favorite of mine since I was a child," adding, "It was selected for no other reason than for the beauty of its melody."

For sure.

The music comes from a 1956 Chinese movie, "Battle on Shanggangling Mountain," about the heroic people's army following the instructions of the beloved leader and, despite setbacks, becoming victorious in the 1952 Battle of Triangle Hill during the Korean War.

Which, btw, 58 years later still has just a ceasefire, no peace treaty.

pianist Lang Lang

A spokesman for the Obama White House says any suggestion that it's an insult to play a patriotic Chinese song that refers to American troops as "jackals" in the U.S. president's house is "just flat wrong."

Good luck selling that one in Wisconsin come Wednesday's presidential trip to Manitowoc.

Our sharp-eyed colleague Paul Richter notes that a Chinese blogger has posted a comment about the song's performance, saying playing it before the U.S. president was "deeply meaningful." But, he adds, "I don't know if the Americans can understand. Ha ha."

As it happens, Lang Lang is scheduled to perform Tuesday evening with the Pacific Symphony in Costa Mesa, Calif. So, that would seem to preclude a heroic encore during the president's State of the Union Address to Congress.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Joshua Roberts / Bloomberg (The Obamas greet President Hu at the White House State Dinner, Jan. 19, 2011); Getty Images (Lang Lang).

Comments () | Archives (32)

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I am going to show up at one of his performances just to boo this jerk.

I am ticked off that we have not heard any Chinese Americans condem this. Where is their patriotism toward there adopted country

You're so proud that we have a sufficient number of wimp leftists (like the readers and staff of the LA Times) that China is going to absolutely destroy us in every way.

They're a country full of poor people and all they can do is copy us..but with enough help from Americans, China will definitely leave America in the dust!
(Perhaps the wimp leftists will survive as slaves to the Chinese.)

Song was an insult to America. He dishonored his welcome- and surprisingly that was Hu's theme during his stay in USA. Hu's China is waging a trade war directly and showing off NK as nuclear powered ally, ready to go to war. Hu is refusing to budge at both. He is refusing to adjust the Yuan currency exchange rate, and refusing to help ease NK and SK tensions. Guess how NK acquired nuke technology? Even if China didn't help directly - it just looked the other way. Nobel Peace Laureates Liu is still in jail, Dalai Lama has been kept out of Tibet for over 51 years. These are all cruel and unfair.

It was probably Obamao's idea - Obamao t-shirts are 'HUGE' in China. Can you feel the love?

Not a big deal. It has the same thing to do with American as Star and Stripes does with Brits today.

I recall when President Reagan hosted state dinner for Japanese Prime Minister Nagasone in White House, our Marine Band played “Marching of Imperial Fleets” - a Japanese Navy marching song in WWII when they bombed Pearl harbor.

I have noticed some brainwashed Patriotism Chinese have made their comment on Lang lang's play: Right place, right time, right song!

Lang lang wanted to show his love to the communist regime, and to insult the US at the same time during this special occasion.

I am a proud Chinese American came from China. I feel very fortunate to become a US citizen.

I feel very sad that our government does not see the true picture of Chinese Communist regime. Red China is definitely the true enemy of United States. Unfortunately no one even bothered to check the background of this Anti-US song Lang Lang played during the state dinner. As a US citizen I feel badly insulted. My kindhearted fellow Americans, please wake up before this Communist dictator becomes a second Aldolph Hitler!!it will be too late to regret.

By the way there are a lot of criticism against this piano incident on the Internet from many Chinese Americans. Nan Xing--a proud Chinese American

Rude, inconsiderate and thoughtless. Also utterly expected in light of Hu Jintao's demeanor towards the US. Of course who can blame the Chinese for disrespecting us? Look at what we have placed into the highest office of the land. Stupid Americans.

When President Reagan hosted a State Dinner for PM Nakasone, (not Nagasone), in April 1987, it was not the Marine Band who played but Henry Mancini and Johnny Mathis.

People grew up in China, Lang Lang for one, are all brainwashed since childhood by the Communist regime to hate America. The song played by Lang Lang is one of the hate-America production.

It would amazed you how effective are these brainwashing on the Chinese from China if you listen to radio call-ins at AM 1300 from Chinese community in Southern California. Whenever there is a conflict between U.S. and China, the Chinese callers always take sides of their fatherland- China. Notwithstanding the fact that these Chinese are here in the U.S. for freedom and a good life that China can not offer them. Many Chinese immigants even rely on U.S. social welfare, yet they are ungrateful to this generous host country.

This has the potential of becoming a major homeland security issue since China is obviously a U.S. competitor in military power in many parts of the world. A future confrontation between China and American cannot be ruled out. All these Communist-China-brainwashed "sleepers" living among Americans can be a major threat to our national security oneday.

Judge for yourselves, but do not blindly accept the author's description of what the famous young pianist was playing.

The song: My Motherland

The words:
- the word translated enemies is also rendered jackal

The video from the movie:

The movie is abour war, but this song is about the soldiers missing their homeland.

As you can see, it is a patriotic song, nor a warring song. The whole song is about the beauty of the homeland but for two sentences:

Beautiful mountains and waters make a delightful place,
And every road is so smooth and so wide.
When our friends come, there are good wine for them,
When our enemies come, there are shotguns for them.

So the only agressive portion of the song is a defensive statement about their homeland.

Me: Conservative American who has visited China since 1991 and been to 12 provinces. My wife, who is Chinese, found this information.

Really, it just amazes me that some Americans can be so myopic and not see the world of opportunities in friendship building since China opened up in the last 20 years. But instead of building we should instead be so distrustful and destructive? You know many Chinese envy our freedom, we can honor that by building bridges, not by tearing them down.

And the administration smiles, promises jobs will be their main focus, and laughs this off as nothing & every minute our indebtedness to China grows immensely. They own us, we own crummy cheap merchandise. But hey, lets talk about the beautiful dress Michelle was wearing and who designed it. Less than 2 more years of this mockery of a President.

Remember when our media at one time at least minimally criticizing China police state? To now that Chinese police state being fully embraced. Supposed becoming sycophantic because China is the biggest owner of American Debt. Its not Americas debt though, its created by offshore banks, fed by the Federal Reserve.
China has no media that is not Government controlled and run. Run by Hereditary Families. The Chinese President a Dictator, elected by Dictators. This Piece of Chinese Nationalist Music was meant to be shown, thrown in the face of the American leader, from the White house, on China's National Broadcast Phoenix Television. The message was that the #1 Anti-American song in China, in which our troops are called "Jackals, dirty Jackals, kill them, shoot them, murder the Americans, they are trash, the Americans are trash, how beautiful China is, how bad America is..."
Advertised by Chinese State run news, report up to 2 hours before the performance "everybody tune in, we're going to show the Americans." Played with the American President Obama, and his family present.
Guess the photos of our President Bending over for Chinas Dictator were appropriate.

Remember how Hu Jintao was heckled by a Falun Gong protestor (who worked for Epoch Times which is the same newspaper that propagated this anti-US story) during his 2006 visit to the White House? Who let her in? Remember how the announcer then introduced China as “Republic of China” (i.e. Taiwan)?

Remember how Hillary Clinton in an effort to “Reset” bilateral relations with Russia passed her counterpart Sergei Lavrov a red button with the Russian word “Overcharged” (meaning danger)?

And now an honest mistake by a musician has been turned into political theatre. Get a grip people. Shows how big much inflation has gone into the American ego than the rise of food prices in China. Oooh it hurts so bad.

Thin skin thick headed Americans should get over it.

The level of American stupidity is just amazing, just like you guys the Chinese have their idiots too, the idiots to make opinions based on assumptions that make it facts, i swear American live on a different planet, but soon enough they will realize they aren't that much special from anyone else, deal with it! When they got trounced at the Olympics and getting whipped economically, they started turning into a bunch of whinny wimps, whose only fighting spirit is to lay the blame on others but never themselves, truly a nation in decay.

Sure it is, just like that proposed mosque at Ground Zero.

The choice of this piece of music and the hype are both unfortunate. I grew up in China and remember watching that movie as a kid, "Battle on Shangganling Mountain." It was very moving and inspiring, as it was meant to be, and who doesn't love that theme song? These days, when I hear that song, I can still hear that beautiful soprano voice who was a famous singer in China decades ago. That song was one soft spot about life and survival (when there was no water) in a movie that was otherwise about fierce battles and intense fighting. I can understand why Lang Lang picked that piece as one of his favorites and I have heard him play on other occasions. But I must say it was unfortunate that no one caught it and raised any red flags to avoid such unnecessary PR embarrassment and misinterpretation. Honestly, even knowing the background, I don't even think about that music as having anything to do with defeating American soldiers as about life, survival and perseverence. Get over it. The two countries have so much more to worry about.

I thought Lang Lang was a Panda Bear!

A friend who is a fine classical musician says that Lang Lang is actually not such a fine classical musician, rather he is very hip and "now" and a popular favorite rather like Paderewski of a century agoa who wowed the ladies with his virtuosity, but really was never a great musician.

This is crazy. How can play a beautiful song turned into insulting America? Are these rednecks so sensitive that anything related to Korea war would insult them and hurt their ignorant feeling? Let's sensor any word related to Korea war, just like Hu did in China.

Leave LL alone! If you don't understand the music, the least you could do is just shut up instead of embarrass yourself!

The only way for the US to prevent war with China is to be overwhelmingly powerful.

China is very obviously preparing to take back Taiwan, and to create a Chinese controlled no go zone between Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines.

China is psychologically very close to where Germany was in 1900.

My post will be short. This was a very good thing to happen because it proves that the Chinese (government) is potentially looking for an opportunity to embarrass Americans when least expected. Should they be trusted?

I grew up in China and like the song too, mostly because of its melody. I am at the age of Lang Lang's mother. I never realized that this song was a theme song of the movie. There is no mentioning of the Korean War or the US in the lyrics. If I translate the entire lyrics into English to post here, no one could associate it to Korean War or the US. Actually most of the young people in China thought the word "Jackels" there means "Japanese" and thought the song originated from Sino-Jap war area.

So please do not try to over-interpret the song and Lang Lang's choice too much.

Anyone familiar with the 3rd verse of Star Spangled Banner, where we curses the British army. Does this mean we are snubbing the Queen every time we play the national anthem?

Right, the truth is My Homeland has transcended its historical backdrop and became China's "God Bless America". No one under 40 in China knows the 50 year old movie.

The only people that are pumping this story are Fox Obama bashers and Falun Gong nut jobs from Epoch Times. that should tell you something.

Too bad Truman was president . Douglas MacAuthur should have been. We wouldn't be putting with this crap now.

There really isn't much difference anymore between chinese commies and the democrat party.

Last year that the congressional black caucus went gaga over fidel castro.

What's next with these anti american obamaistas, a commenmorative coin for yassir arrafat?

The song isn't anti-American because it doesn't even mention America. In fact, the lyrics have absolutely NO references to the US or even the Korean War. Nowhere in the lyrics does it contain "jackal" either.

These are the songs' lyrics from wikipedia:



A great river flows, its waves wide and calm
Wind blows through rice flowers, bearing fragrance to both shores
My family live right there by the water
I am used to hearing the punters' call
And seeing the white sails on the boats


A great river flows, its waves wide and calm
Wind blows through rice flowers, bearing fragrance to both shores
My family live right there by the water
I am used to hearing the punters' call
And seeing the white sails on the boats


This is the beautiful motherland
The place where I grew up
On this expansive stretch of land
Everywhere there is wonderful scenery to behold



The young ladies are like flowers
The young men's hearts are big and determined
In order to usher in a new era
They've woken the sleeping mountains
And changed the face of the river


This is the heroic motherland
The place where I grew up
On this stretch of ancient land
There is youthful vigour everywhere



Great mountains, great rivers, a great land
Every road is broad and wide
If the friends come, there is fine wine
But if the wolves come[2][3]
Those who greet him have hunting guns[2][3]


This is the strong motherland
The place where I grew up
On this stretch of warm and friendly land
There is peaceful sunshine everywhere"

@djrusa, so if Chinese Americans don't all condemn this, they're unpatriotic?

Does that mean every time the French do something stupid, Americans who are part French have to condemn France?

Or if England criticizes the US, does that mean people who are part Anglo-Saxon (aka most of the population) have to condemn England?

The fact that you think certain groups in American have to condemn crap done by other countries in other to prove their patriotism shows you're an idiot.

I know plenty of Chinese and other Asian Americans who show their patriotism by joining the military or who work as doctors helping people.

Go take your chauvinist fake patriotism and shove it.

I haven't had occasion to read Andrew Malcolm ("press secretary to Laura Bush in 1999-2000") since the 2008 election, but I see he hasn't gotten any brighter since then. Having met Lang Lang, I can tell you that he is a classical music geek through and through -- which is another way of saying that his interests include music, music, and music. It doesn't shock me at all that the guy who rhapsodized to me about the Czerny "School of Velocity" Etudes for piano might not be up on (or obsessed by) Chinese film trivia involving the Korean War. I mean, he was born in 1982, for God's sake. On Flag Day, just FYI. Do you want to make something of that, too? I'm sure it was meant as some kind of diplomatic slight; I'll leave it to an expert like you to decipher the meaning.

Honestly, Mr. Malcolm, have you never spoken to a classical musician? They may care deeply about things like peace, freedom, and social justice, but they don't necessarily spend their time poring over Cold War obscurities. Nor should we.

Of course obuma knew what this song represented, he's a socialist.
Learn from history hussein obuma:
"Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world." Napoleon......

Lang Lang turned out to be a high ranking official of an organization in China affiliated with the Chinese Communist party.

Epoch Times, 01/30/2011
Lang Lang’s Political Career: Following in the Footsteps of Chairman Hu

LANG LANG, the Chinese pianist, gives every impression of being a free and easy "musician, not a politician" when he's in the U.S.—but at all times he carries an important political task. As one of the 16 Vice-Chairmen of the All China Youth Federation, he needs to follow the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, be a good patriot, propagate socialism, and guide the young to study communist theory. Hu Jintao himself used to be the Chairman of this organization, an important entity in the world of Chinese communist politics.

So, Lang Lang is just doing his deed for the Chinesea communist by playing an anti-U.S. song in the White House.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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