Kenny G and Hu Jintao Make Protest Music: Tunisia's Choice of Revolutionary Symbols Confounds Chinese Censors (VIDEO)

A blog about politics, sports, media, stuff
Feb. 23 2011 6:07 PM

Kenny G and Hu Jintao Make Protest Music: Tunisia's Choice of Revolutionary Symbols Confounds Chinese Censors (VIDEO)

As Chinese citizens try to take part in the still-spreading international protests , the country's Internet censors have run into a problem: the name of the movement born in Tunisia, the Jasmine Revolution , overlaps with the traditional and ubiquitous folk song " Mo Li Hua ," or "Jasmine Flower." This is making it unusually difficult for the authorities to block searches and postings involving sensitive keywords. The New York Times explains:

Advertisement
It was supposedly the favorite of China’s previous leader, Jiang Zemin, who asked it to be played at the 1997 handover of the former British colony, Hong Kong, to China. In addition, videos exist of China’s current leader, Hu Jintao singing the song while on a trip in Africa.

Some of these videos were posted on social networking sites, forcing censors to have to decide if they should take down videos of senior leaders that could be explained as an expression of patriotism.

A search in Chinese for "Hu Jintao sings 'Mo Li Hua'" turns up video posted long before the Tunisian unrest, showing the Chinese president singing along with a group of African performers, then telling them how important the song is where he comes from. Here's a more recent edit of the clip:





And here is the Vienna Boys Choir performing the song:





Below the Boys Choir YouTube clip, someone has posted new lyrics, in Chinese:

Zai Zhogguo zhao bu dao mo li hua...


You can't find jasmine flowers in China


You can't find jasmine flowers in China


If you have one in your hand, Public Security will arrest you


A fist and a boot will quickly strike


Chinese people are not mutes


But none dare speak


Jasmine flower, oh, jasmine flower.


 

Elsewhere on YouTube, there's Chinese protest footage , followed someone singing the "can't find jasmine" lyrics, apparently through some sort of voice-mangler. And here is "Mo Li Hua" played by Kenny G—the inescapable background sound of China—the YouTube comments for which have also suddenly become an outlet for reformist yearnings. Zhongguoren ye pei minzhu , someone has written: Chinese people also deserve democracy.

 


Tom Scocca is the managing editor of Deadspin and the author of Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 23 2014 1:51 PM Is This the ISIS Backlash We've Been Waiting For?
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:45 AM The United States of Reddit  How social media is redrawing our borders. 
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.