Shanghai Nostalgia: the East Is Red

Next time you are in Shanghai in the vicinity of the Bund, listen carefully at the quarter hour.

The chimes you hear emanating from the old Customs House on the Bund are “The East Is Red”.

The East is red

The sun is rising

China has given birth to a Chairman Mao

At quarter after the hour, the first bar is played. At half past the hour, the first two bars are played. At 45 minutes past the hour, the first three bars are played. At the top of the hour, the entire song is played.

Opening in 1927, the Customs House building was built by the British, who were granted authority of customs in Shanghai’s International Settlement in 1854.

The building’s Eastern wing is eight stories tall, and it faces the Whampoa River. A clock tower modeled after Big Ben in London rises a further three stories.

Westminster Quarters

The “Westminster Quarters” were played on the quarter hour until the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), when the tune was changed to “The East Is Red”, which was the national anthem at the time.

The Westminster Quarters were revived in the 1980s. “The East Is Red” was revived in 2003.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think that’s rather cool.

 Copyright Michael Taylor Pictured: Clock tower of the Customs House in Shanghai Photo Credit: Li Guangming via Wikimedia Commons

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