Descendants of Dragons

Wang Leehom, 2000

What is the main reason for the complex political relationship between the People's Republic of China (or mainland China) and the Republic of China (or Taiwan) since 1949? How is the United States involved in this complicated relationship?

In your opinion, what does a dragon symbolize? What do you think it symbolizes to different listeners in the PRC and Taiwan?

The rap, in English translation, begins, "Now here's a story that'll make you cry." What are some reasons why people hearing this rap may cry?

Based on your understanding of this song and Wang Leehom's biography, how do you think he defines home? Is it a place, a nation, or something else?

"Descendants of Dragons" performed by Leehom Wang on Forever's First Day, © 2000. Available on YouTube.

For more information about Wang Leehom, visit his official website.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult the following online resource for lyrics:

Link to Translation of the original song:

NOTE: Only the first two verses are used in Leehom Wang's version.

The term "descendants of dragons" became popular in the 1970s as an expression of ethnic identity for people of mainland China and Taiwan. Taiwan and the People's Republic of China (PRC, mainland China) have a complex relationship, with each having claimed to be the true government of China, the PRC claiming sovereignty over Taiwan, and varied Taiwanese interests calling for reunification with the PRC or independence.

Hou Deijan's recording of Descendants of Dragons
Hou Deijan's recording of "Descendants of Dragons."

The song "Descendants of Dragons" has been used for a variety of political purposes. It was originally composed by Taiwanese musician Hou Dejian in 1978 to protest the United States' decision to recognize the legitimacy of the PRC and resume diplomatic relations with mainland China for the first time since the Cultural Revolution. It was first popularized by Wang's Taiwanese uncle, Lee Chien-Fu, who recorded it in 1980, and it became popular in China after Hou immigrated there. According to W. Anthony Sheppard, "When Hou supported the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, his song became an anthem for the student movement, and he was deported back to Taiwan" (613).

Wang first heard "Descendants of Dragons" in his youth when his uncle visited the United States. At first Wang did not like the aesthetics of Chinese popular music. Wang has written that his version of the song encourages pan-Asian pride "regardless of where we live or may have grown up" (quoted in Sheppard, 613). Wang claims that he recorded "twenty-something tracks of vocals and background vocals so I could sound like a strong chorus of voices singing, 'They are all descendants of the dragon'!" (quoted in Sheppard, 613).

For more about Wang Leehom, see "Heroes of Earth."

Compare this song to:

"This Land Is Your Land" (Unit 8).



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