Chinese Language Blog

A Chinese Revolutionary Song Born from the Xingtai Earthquake Posted by on Jun 20, 2018 in Culture

Old man at the Great wall by Tormod Sandtorv from is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Xingtai (邢台Xíngtái) is a prefecture-level city in the south of Heibei province. Located only several hours of driving from Beijing, Xingtai is an old city with long history, dating back thousands of years ago.

Unfortunately, it is also known as the first city in the short history of the People’s Republic of China to be damaged by an earthquake. In March 1966, five successive earthquakes above 6 on the Richter scale, took place in the area administered by the city. The first earthquake occurred early morning on March 8th, the strongest with a magnitude of 7.2 occurred on the 22nd, and the last on March 29th. The sequence of earthquakes known by the name the Xingtai earthquake  邢台大地震 (xíngtái dà dìzhèn) caused serious damage and major casualties. Thousands were killed, ten thousand were injured, and many more lost their homes.


The government did its best to help, and the rescue teams’ efforts were helpful. Premier Zhou Enlai personally visited the afflicted area several times during this month. And he wasn’t the only one – many artists hurried towards the disaster area. They roamed around and spoke with the locals. They were inspired by the leadership and touched by the affection from the people. Many creative works were conceived on the spot. One such work is a short song named 《天大地大不如党的恩情大》(Tiān dà dì dà bùrú dǎng de ēnqíng dà).


Only a few days were needed for the composer劫夫 (Jié fū) and the writer 洪源 (Hóng yuán) to create that song during their stay in Xingtai. The artists compiled speeches from the wounded, the thankful natives’ statements, and created a song that represents the voice of the people. The terse song, composed of simple words, direct sentences, and folk composition, quickly spread throughout the country, and is one of the famous revolutionary songs even today.


For us it’s a useful tool to learn basic Chinese communist vocabulary:

毛泽东 (máozédōng) = Mao Zedong

毛泽东思想 (máozédōng sīxiǎng) = Mao Zedong thought, Maoism

毛主席 (máo zhǔxí) = chairman Mao

革命 (gémìng) = revolution

社会主义 (shèhuì zhǔyì) = socialism

阶级 (jiējí) = class

党 (dǎng) = party




Tiān dà dì dà bùrú dǎng de ēnqíng dà
diē qīn niáng qīn bùrú máo zhǔxí qīn
qiān hǎo wàn hǎo bùrú shèhuì zhǔyì hǎo
hé shēn hǎi shēn bùrú jiējí yǒu’ài shēn
máozédōng sīxiǎng shì gémìng de bǎo
shéi yàoshi fǎnduì tā
shéi jiùshì wǒmen de dírén


(English translation in the video)



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