The national anthem of the Republic of China (Chinese: 中華民國國歌; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Mínguó guógē) speaks how the vision and hopes of a new nation and its people can and should be achieved and maintained using the Three Principles of the People. Originally the party anthem of the ruling Kuomintang, it was officially adopted as the national anthem in 1943 during the Second World War. Informally, the song is sometimes known as "San Min Chu-i" or "Three Principles of the People" from its opening line, but this is never used in formal or official occasions.
On March 24, 1930, numerous Kuomintang party members proposed to use the speech by Sun as the lyrics to the national anthem. The national anthem of the republic was the Song to the Auspicious Cloud. Due to opposition over using a symbol of a political party to represent the entire nation, the National Anthem Editing and Research Committee (國歌編製研究委員會) was set up, which endorsed the KMT party song. On June 3, 1937, the Central Standing Committee (中央常務委員會) approved the proposal, and in 1943, the song officially became the national anthem of the Republic of China.
As well as being written in classical Chinese, the national anthem follows classical poetic conventions. The style follows that of a four-characterpoem (四言詩), also called a four-character rhymed prose (四言韻文), first appeared in the Zhou Dynasty. The last character of each line rhymes in -ong or -eng, which are equivalent in ancient Chinese. Because of the concise and compact nature of poetry, some words in the text have different interpretations, evident in the two translations below.
San Min Chu-i,
Our aim shall be:
To found a free land, World peace, be our stand.
Lead on, comrades,
Vanguards ye are.
Hold fast your aim,
By sun and star.
Be earnest and brave,
Your country to save,
One heart, one soul,
One mind, one goal...
Three Principles of the People,
The foundation of our party.
Using [this], [we] establish the Republic;
Using [this], [we] advance into a state of total peace.
Oh, you, warriors,
For the people, [be] the vanguard.
Without resting day or night,
Follow the Principles.
Swear [to be] diligent; swear [to be] courageous.
Obliged to be trustworthy; obliged to be loyal.
[With] one heart and one virtue,
[We] carry through until the very end.
Lines seven and eight of the Tu and literal translations seem to vary dramatically, but the Tu translation is actually just in inverse order, probably to suit a more natural English word order. The words "day" and "night" are replaced by the metonyms "sun" and "star". Also, classical Chinese poetry allows for a great amount of license in interpretation.
The real differences are caused by the official interpretations, where some political and martial words have had their other connotations emphasized:
"Our party" (吾黨) has been extended to be "our alliance", meaning "of us together", including the non-party members. (Translated in the Tu version as "our")
"Warriors" (多士) personifies the persistence and fighting spirits in all citizens, including the civilians. ("Comrades")
"Vanguard" (前鋒) symbolizes the "model citizens".
Such is taught in ROC schools, but some consider the elaboration of those phrases to be an inconsistent and unfaithful interpretation of the original.
The "great unity" (大同) has been interpreted to mean "total world harmony" (世界大同) and is a Confucian term used in the Great Learning as the ultimate aim that humans should strive for. However, the term was also occasionally used in the nineteenth century as a translation of the term "socialism" (the term for "Communism" 共産 was actually a Japanese word, and some scholarly perspectives claim that the Chinese term for the translation should be 大同). Sun Yat-sen's philosophy was that by providing for a strong China which could relate to the world as an equal, world harmony could be achieved.