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Patriotic US songs play at Chinese launch

The lift-off was flawless. The orbit immaculate. But while China's leaders were celebrating the triumphant launch of Tiangong-1 space lab on Thursday, viewers of state television footage were treated to a bizarre choice of soundtrack: America the Beautiful.

world Updated: Oct 01, 2011 00:49 IST

The lift-off was flawless. The orbit immaculate. But while China's leaders were celebrating the triumphant launch of Tiangong-1 space lab on Thursday, viewers of state television footage were treated to a bizarre choice of soundtrack: America the Beautiful.

To mark the launch, the Chinese space agency and China Central Television (CCTV) released a proud animation, set to rousing orchestral strains, of the "Heavenly Palace" thrusting skyward, lofting above the Earth and docking with a Shenzou crew capsule.

The only problem being that the backing music in question is America the Beautiful - more or less an unofficial national anthem of the United States.

America the Beautiful, composed by a New York church organist in 1882, has long been a favourite of US patriots. It has been proposed as the national hymn and a replacement for The Star-Spangled Banner as anthem.

When asked why an American hymn was chosen, the state channel appeared to be stumped.

"I don't know how to answer your question," Chen Zhansheng of the CCTV propaganda department said. "I cannot help you."

GNS