China bans national anthem at weddings and funerals

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's national anthem can no longer be performed at weddings, funerals, balls or other non-political functions and should only be performed at certain dignified events, state media said on Friday. The rule is to "standardise proper etiquette for the national anthem, which reflects national independence and liberation, a prosperous, strong country and the affluence of the people", the official Xinhua news agency said. "The March of the Volunteers" may, however, be played at the start of important celebrations or public political gatherings, formal diplomatic occasions or significant international gatherings, it added, citing a Communist Party statement. The anthem can also be performed when Chinese athletes win medals and "at arenas where national dignity should be fought for and safeguarded". People who break the rules will be "criticised and corrected", Xinhua added. The stirringly patriotic national anthem dates back to days before the 1949 Communist revolution, and include the lyrics "Brave the enemy's fire, march on!" (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)