Do not fear the atomic bomb! (1958)
The dropping of the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 changed the world forever (or at least for a long time). Not only did the event end the Second World War in the Pacific. It drove home the horrors of nuclear weapons and set the stage for one of the most central issues of the emerging Cold War: the nuclear arms race. The explosion of the bombs in Japan worried the Soviet Union. The country already had its own nuclear program, but it would only possess its own a-bomb in 1949. The reason was that the SU had begun research on nuclear weapons in earnest only one and a half years after the United States, in October 1942 (the origins of the Manhattan Project went back to February 1940) (Craig and Radchenko 2008, 4, 50). Soviet science funding at the time had emphasized application-oriented research, and for a long time, according to Craig and Radchenko, the atomic bomb had seemed too futuristic and unrealistic – not application-oriented enough. This attitude changed in 1942, and by 1945 the a-bomb possessed by the United States and the development and improvement of the Soviet Union’s own nuclear weapons were hot topics (Craig and Radchenko 2008, 38–50). As part of the Eastern Bloc, the People’s Republic of China was engulfed in the same Cold War frenzy about the atomic bomb in the 1950s. By now, China is a nuclear power. But it had only started its own nuclear program in 1955, with the help of the Soviet Union (Horsburgh 2015, 42), and it would detonate its first atomic bomb in 1964. In light of the Korean War and the United States’ support of the Guomindang on Taiwan, the Western superpower’s nuclear capabilities were an urgent topic for the People’s Republic and a frequent theme in its propaganda of the 1950s.
What is fascinating about this propaganda was that it was quite dichotomous: On the one hand, it claimed that the atomic bomb (and the American ‘imperialists’, in this parlance, who possessed it) was a terrible thing, with horrible destructive capabilities and the harbinger of World War III. But on the other hand, the propaganda claimed that the bomb was not to be feared after all and the United States were nothing but a ‘paper tiger’ (Chen 1994, 18; Gittings 1964, 106). Contemporaries at the grassroots, of course, noted these sorts of contradictions and ‘wondered … “we know that imperialism will be defeated in the end and that the people will ultimately be victorious. What’s the emergency now?”’(Diamant 2010, 130)
Nevertheless, the propaganda and its contradictions were quite visible, and the Document of this Month is part of this. It is taken from a series of ten booklets with the title ‘Collections of military knowledge’ (軍事知識叢書), published in September 1958. The title of this booklet was ‘Nuclear Weapons and Protection against Them’ (原子武器及其防護). Its introductory text located it within the ‘Everyone a Soldier” (全民皆兵) campaign during the Great Leap Forward (Yuanzi wuqi ji qi fanghu 1958, 1), designed to turn the people into an ‘ocean of soldiers’, who would be capable of defending the country against any enemy (Gittings 1964, 100, 106).
Why was the booklet part of the dichotomous propaganda about nuclear weapons? On the one hand, the very publication and distribution of a booklet on ‘Nuclear Weapons and Protection against Them’ pointed, and arguably even contributed, to the fear of the atomic bomb. But on the other hand, the booklet also promoted the ‘paper tiger’ theory, in that it claimed that ‘protection against’ the bomb was possible.
How did such a proposed ‘protection against’ the a-bomb look like? After the ‘explosion’ (爆炸) of an a-bomb, the booklet claimed, there were a few seconds until the ‘shock wave’ (衝擊波) reached one, allowing one time to reach a ‘shelter’ (掩蔽地) (Yuanzi wuqi ji qi fanghu 1958, 10). Seeking protection could include lying in ‘a ditch’ (溝渠) (figure 13), sitting in a car in crash position, the face ‘below the glass of the front window’ (低於前窗的玻璃) to avoid the shattering glass (figure 14) (Yuanzi wuqi ji qi fanghu 1958, 12) or in a house ‘falling flat near a window’ (靠近窗臥倒), again to avoid the shattering glass (figure 14). If none of these ‘shelters’ were available, it was recommended to lie on the floor face-down, ‘both hands curved under the body’ (雙手彎曲置於身下) (Yuanzi wuqi ji qi fanghu 1958, 13). The danger of radiation was not unknown, and it was discussed in the booklet. But these recommendations made the a-bomb look quite manageable.
This rhetoric about nuclear weapons was just enough to make the people never forget the danger posed by the American ‘imperialists’ and the necessity to build China’s own atomic bomb, while avoiding to paralyze them into too much fear to lose optimism in the Socialist project and its victory.
Chen, Jian. 1994. China’s Road to the Korean War: The Making of the Sino-American Confrontation. New York: Columbia University Press.
Craig, Campbell, and Sergey Radchenko. 2008. The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Diamant, Neil Jeffrey. 2010. Embattled Glory: Veterans, Military Families, and the Politics of Patriotism in China, 1949 - 2007. Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield.
Gittings, John. 1964. ‘China’s Militia’. China Quarterly, no. 18: 100–117.
Horsburgh, Nicola. 2015. China and Global Nuclear Order: From Estrangement to Active Engagement. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Yuanzi wuqi ji qi fanghu 原子武器及其防護 (Nuclear Weapons and Protection against Them). 1958. Junshi zhishi congshu. Guangzhou: Keji weisheng chuban she.
Elisabeth Forster (Universität Freiburg)
Hujing hu’ai 互敬互爱 (1957)
On the occasion of the upcoming colorful and joyous Christmas the text of this month features an occasional found on a flea market in Nanjing in 2013, a marriage certificate. The first one handed out to the husband in no way differs from the one of the wife (except the order of names). The fact that Nanjing city authorities already issued two copies of the same marriage certificate shows that by the year 1957 gender equality was already recognized by state authorities, after all the imprint in the middle reads hujing hu’ai 互敬互爱, or „Respect each other, love each other“, fashioning romance in a socialist sense.
Slide Shows as Medium of Education (1950s)
From the early years of the PRC the dissemination of both science and ideology relied on slide shows (tu huandeng 土幻灯) that were considered adequate means of communicating knowledge to illiterate peasants and workers. The Newsletter of Science Dissemination (Kexue puji tongxun 科学普及通讯) that started publication in 1950 emphasizes the efficiency of slide shows in communicating, especially when pictures or drawings replaced text.
Already Lu Xun had explained his intellectual transformation during his medical studies at the University of Sendai in Japan (1904-1906) by such slides, pointing out in his autobiographical account in Nahan that watching one day in class a current events slide of a Chinese man beheaded by Japanese soldiers for spying during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 made him abandon medical studies and pursue literature instead.
In 1951, the Manufacturer of the Audio-Visual Instructional Instruments (Dianhua jiaoyu gongju zhizaosuo 电化教育工具制造所) under the Office for Dissemination of Science at the Culture Ministry of the People’s Central Government that had established a workshop for producing educational media advertised in the year 1950 a list of slide shows dealing with various topics, ranging from heroic stories telling the liberation of China, to the atomic bomb and general knowledge on hygiene and health.
Self-made slideshows, also called “homemade film” (tu dianying 土电影), were highly recommended as an inexpensive, simple, yet effective means of science dissemination. Slideshow equipment is relatively light in weight. For its lighting widely available gas light as well as electricity can be used. These facts make the slideshow mobile enough for traveling in the countryside. Even more important, self-made slides can be easily tailored for specific instructions: they are fast and cheap to make and to revise.
The fact that pictures of slide shows were often first printed as inserts in journals—such as the Newsletter of Science Dissemination or the Science Illustrated (Kexue huabao 科学画报)—and then expected to be scratched on glass slides and shown on the villages squares shows that their distribution cannot be underestimated. Their success in education is not only praised in an article in the Renmin Ribao in March 1954, reporting that the the nation-wide dissemination of 40,000 projectors and 600,000 slide shows is supposed to have reached 300 million people during the first four years of the People’s Republic (1949-1953), here assuming that each slide show was shown five times with an average audience of one hundred persons (Ye Fu 1954).
The slides attached to this Text of the Month presents an overview on the ethnic minorities in the People’s Republic. They convey general knowledge on the customs and characteristics of minorities to primary schoolchildren. The accompanying explanation to the ten slides show a Han-chauvinist attitude towards minorities by exoticizing them, emphasizing their cultural customs, glamorous clothing and living habits, and it is safe to say that these perceptions—long been criticized by anthropologists such as Dru Gladney—are taught to the children without any further reflection: China simply appears as a happy multiethnic nation.
 See here his autobiographical account in the preface to Call to Arms (Nahan), in: Lu Xun (Lu Hsün) (1981): Complete Stories (transl. by Yang Xianyi). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
 After cultural centers in Shanxi and Hebei used it on local festive occasions such as temple festival and livestock shows, their experiences were promoted nationwide. See “Jieshao 'tu dianying 介绍土电影,'” in: Kexue puji tongxun, 1950, no.3, p. 50, “Huandeng shi kexue puji gongzuo de yige youxiao gongju 幻灯是科学普及工作的一个有效工具”, no.9, p.184, “Ji huandeng gongzuo taolunhui 记幻灯工作讨论会,”, no.9, pp. 184-86.
Gladney, Dru C. (1994): Representing Nationality in China: Refiguring Majority/Minority Identities, in: The Journal of Asian Studies 53, No. 1, Feb. 1994, pp. 92-123.
Mullaney, Thomas Shawn (2011): Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Ye Fu 野夫 (1954): Huandeng - Wenjiao kexue puji gongzuo de liqi 幻灯——文教科学普及工作的利器, in: Renmin Ribao, 19 March 1954.
Jiankangbao 健康报 (since 1931)
Issued by the Weishengbu 卫生部
The Jiankangbao (JKB) is an official mouthpiece of the Weishengbu, the ministry of health, and thus the CCP, featuring official directives, announcements and articles formerly published in the Renmin ribao 人民日报 (RMRB) as well as articles on hygiene, health and medical topics.
Though called Jiankangbao, the newspaper - appearing up to two or three times a week - does not necessarily hold for defining the term jiankang 健康. First and foremost it served as a mostly four-paged bulletin board for government directives and announcements. Most of these directives, not only in the beginning of the PRC but especially in the end of the Maoist era, did influence hygiene work and medical work to some extent, but not necessarily. Especially during the later years of the Maoist era an increasing amount of articles and texts are reproductions of Mao’s speeches and distinctly flavored articles from the RMRB.
When looking at the part of the JKB that is not so much concerned with the political and ideological development of the PRC, one is left with two kinds of texts:
- detailed reports about hygiene improvement and medical development (admittedly influenced by the desire to depict the nation’s development)
- cursory articles on health and disease, tipps and advice
In the 1950s, articles of the last category are, more often than not, translations from Russian, discussing not only the Soviet health system and services, but also scientific discoveries. Some are written on a solid foundation of Russian literature. Most of the larger articles are serialized, appearing in three, four or sometimes five adjoining papers. Also, topics tend to be discussed in more than one issue, giving a wider platform for a more thorough approach to the matters at hand.
A distinct pattern can be made out in the topics discussed in the last two categories. For the 1950s a number of articles and reports are published on the issue of infectious diseases such as schistosomiasis , vaccinations and hygiene improvements to curtail the spreading of said diseases. In later issues the main topics change recognizably to food hygiene, including the question of food storage and the improvement of hygiene standards in public canteens. During 1957 the topic of family planning and contraception is discussed at length, and in 1958 the widespread movement to build a New Medicine is emphasized frequently.
The Great Leap Forward also leaves its mark on the articles in the JKB. Food shortages are, of course, not mentioned but the issue of food poisoning and food hygiene comes up more frequently from 1960 on. Articles on metabolic issues and other food and nutrition related topics are published more frequently than in 1956 for example.
In the first year of the Cultural Revolution the JKB follows the mainstream of the RMRB and the Hongqi 红旗 and issues close to no articles concerning health or hygiene in any way, succumbing to the ideological need to spread propaganda and more visual material in form of photographs. Still, the use of the word jiankang 健康 appears to increase during that time as opposed to earlier issues of the newspaper, where it almost never makes an appearance.
Throughout the JKB the human body is labelled as a battlefield that has to be secured and defended by medicine, while the mind has to be protected by correct ideology. Falling into line with the assumption that the body is a means of production for the individual as well as for the state, this denotes the quest for health as a quest for successful production and strengthening of the nation.
In the end, the JKB proved to be a valid organ to pursue the official Party line in health matters and beyond, and also insightful as to how issues in health and hygiene policies have changed. From a focus on infectious diseases, to concerns about food hygiene in public canteens, to contraception, the most pressing public health issues at the time are discussed and made available to the public on a weekly basis.
 Miriam Gross and Kawai Fan (2014): „Schistosomiasis“ In: Andrews, Bridie and Brown Bullock, Mary (2014): Medical Transitions in Twentieth-Century China. Indiana: Indiana University Press.
Artifacts of the Revolution (1976)
The periodical Artifacts of the Revolution (Geming wenwu 革命文物) was a bimonthly publication starting to appear in April 1976. It was a declared project of Hua Guofeng 华国锋 who at that time was struggling with Jiang Qing 江青 and the Gang of Four 四人帮 on the question who should be considered the true successor of Mao Zedong 毛泽东. After the death of Zhou Enlai 周恩来 on January 8, 1976 Hua had taken over the post as acting Premier of the PRC and as the First Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China. He regarded himself as the legitimate successor to the Great Chairman, yet had to justify this claim, which he did by presenting a 'testament' in Mao's handwriting that also included the most famous saying that reproduced by Hua again and again at that time, namely "With you in charge, I'm at ease" (Ni banshi, wo fangxin 你办事我放心).
The periodical that appeared in the same month was thought to pass down this message to the people. It intended to put Hua Guofeng in a lineage of revolutionary fighters since the founding of the Communist Party in 1921. Considering that the late era of the Cultural Revolution was still a time of two political lines antagonizing each other, he could not simply prove his legitimacy by taking either side (which in his specific situation might have meant to condemn the Gang of Four and to support Deng Xiaoping). Instead, the first issue of the journal did not only confirm Hua as Premier, but also expelled Deng from the party as decided by the Central Committee of the Communist Party on April 7, 1976. This journal was however not only a reaction to the Tiananmen Incident of April 1976 where at the eve of China's annual Qingming Festival thousands of people gathered to commemorate the life and death of Zhou Enlai (thereby attacking Jiang Qing and the Gang of Four for their alleged evil actions against the former Premier). The protests on the Tiananmen Square attacked namely not only political enemies, but also tried to annihilate the memory of the revolution: when Hua Guofeng—in his role as the head of public security forces—had ordered to remove the wreaths and other commemorative materials put in front of the Monument to the People's Heroes he incited the anger of the mourners, and as a consequence not only vehicles were burned and offices ransacked, but also the Museum of Revolutionary History (Geming lishi bowuguan 革命历史博物馆) was attacked. Four attacks by counter-revolutionary forces, the first issue of the periodical reports, cadres and workers in the museum were injured, and there were efforts of an arson attack.  The arson was impeded, yet showed—as argued in a contribution in the second number of the journal—that protecting revolutionary artifacts by the masses was a result of the Cultural Revolution. In this sense, the periodical viewed itself as a support of the heroic task to protect and restore historic sites, to collect artifacts, and to organize exhibitions. 
At the same time, Artifacts of the Revolution propagated Hua Guofeng as the new leader by tying him to the revolutionary heritage by concentrating on artifacts that were proven relics of the revolutionary movement. The material existence of these artifacts was thought to show this link without relying exclusively on ideological statements. It rather tried to create an authentic, or ontological, memory of the revolutionary past, and this turn—that can retrospectively be called an authentic turn—explains why throughout all the issues of the Artifacts of the Revolution (1976-1980) there were calls to rescue and collect the traces of the past (shiji 事迹, zuji 足迹, yiji 遗迹).
 Relie huanhu Mao zhuxi wuchan jieji geming luxian de weida shengli 热烈欢呼毛主席无产阶级革命路线的伟大胜利, Geming wenwu, no. 1, 1976.
 Yang Zheng 杨峥 (1976): Geming wenwu gongzuo zai douzheng zhong polang qianjin 革命文物工作在斗争中破浪前进, in: Geming wenwu, no. 2, pp. 5-6, 45.
The Way to Nourishing Life - 25 Healthy Foods (1982)
The small booklet „The Way to Nourishing Life“ (Yangsheng zhi dao 养生之道), published by the Guilin Renmin Chubanshe 桂林人民出版社 in 1982, is part of a five-book-series that was translated from Japanese into Chinese as the Japanese nutrition science was deemed more advanced than the Chinese in the beginning of the 1980s.
In this particular publication 25 healthy foods or eating methods are explained in detail, some entries are enhanced by tables about the nutritional value. The intention of this book is to clear up misunderstandings in the population on food hygiene and nutritional needs with scientific arguments. The scientificity of eating and drinking is stressed frequently, showing the need to base the author’s arguments in a well-established system.
Foods discussed are not only medicinally based foods but also daily foods, such as coarse rice, soy beans, mushrooms and sesame. Still, there are five herbs, which are elements of Chinese Medicine practices listed and discussed as useful supplements in a healthy diet. Other foods that are labeled as health foods include green tea, vinegar and royal jelly.
Interesting health foods that are mentioned, are green juices  and the Vermont method to supplement with a mixture of honey and vinegar, especially considering today’s health craze about juicing and green juices and diets such as the Master Cleanse where a mixture of maple syrup, cayenne pepper and lemon juice are consumed.
 For more information see: Endo, Niro (1963): The Miracle Green Juice. Kurashiki: Endo-Aoschiru-no-Kai.
Electrostatic Accelerators for Peasants (1959)
In 1956 a new journal dedicated to the dissemination of science appeared, entitled Knowledge Is Power (Zhishi jiushi liliang 知识就是力量, 1956-62). The title referred to the famous saying by Francis Bacon (1561-1626), that is “knowledge itself is power” (ipsa scientia potentia est). It is not surprising that this saying enjoyed greatest popularity during Maoist times. The namesake of this Chinese journal was a Soviet journal on popular science that had installed Bacon’s slogan as a generally shared idea in socialist countries and shaped the consciousness of the new working class. It followed the style and ideas of its Soviet namesake Знание-сила, presented the vision of “tomorrow” – the near future – for young workers and students of polytechnic secondary schools. Its aim was to place production and dissemination of knowledge in the hands of the working people. The date of founding this journal was not coincidental. In 1956 the state called for “marching towards science” (xiang kexue jinjun 向科学进军), a slogan behind which were China's awareness of its backwardness in science and technology and its later desire to reduce its dependence on the Soviet Union. The first five issues edited by the Soviet side set the example of cultivating the ethos of the future in its readers. In the inaugural issue, the Russian/Soviet chemist N. D. Zelinsky (1861-1953) was cited as saying that “our present is the future of our foreign friends,” a quote temporalizing the spatially located Soviet Union into the future and thereby putting it on a higher stage of the linear progression of history for other socialist countries to emulate. With the Sino-Soviet split deteriorating the relations between both countries more and more contributions to the journal were emphasizing the need to develop autarky and indigenous methods (tubanfa 土办法) for achieving modernization.
The strong belief in the ability to do so was not limited to issues of technology in agricultural and industrial production, was also believed to play a role in nuclear physics, as described in an article calling for building electrostatic accelerators with tubanfa. Published in 1959 during the Great Leap Forward, the article proposes to build electrostatic accelerators, each at a price of 3,000 Yuan and on the basis of locally available resources, so that farmers could improve their agricultural production by for example exposing seedlings to gamma radiation. In this case, high technology was directly linked to the daily production activities of farmers, thereby reducing the distance between educated experts and workers and farmers. The new socialist regime could allow neither production nor dissemination of knowledge to be an exclusive affair of the elite and rather aimed at placing it in the hands of the working people.
Marc Matten and Rui Kunze
Teaching Material of Skills for Capturing the Enemy (1979)
Teaching Material of Skills for Capturing the Enemy (Qindi jishu jiaocai 擒敌技术教材), published by Office of Armed Civil Police Forces at the Ministry of Public Security (Gonganbu wuzhuang minjingju 公安部武装民警局), 1979, Qunzhong chubanshe.
This concise booklet—published in 1979 after the fall of the Gang of Four—contains various exercises and training skills for police officers, providing them with the necessary combat techniques to fight agains criminals and bad elements in society.
The introduction tells that due to the illegitimate intervention of Lin Biao and the Gang of Four during the Cultural Revolution training for fighting techniques had been abolished and that only Hua Guofeng had been able—after taking power—to restore this training. It is on this occasion that this booklet has been printed. It contains a large number of illustrations showing both training exercises and fighting techniques. In the latter case, the enemy is always depicted with long hair and a mean facial expression, making it easy to recognize the good guy and the bad guy. Apart from that, this booklet is—with exception of the reference to Lin Biao and the Gang of Four—devoid of any political message. This being said, enjoy the fighting scenes!
The Invasion by Hollywood (1951)
The small booklet Invasion by Hollywood (Haolaiwu de qinlüe 好萊塢的侵略) is a 1951 publication by the Shiyue chubanshe 十月出版社. It is a collection of articles denouncing movies and the American influence on movies previously published in different journals. The collection mainly consists of newspaper articles by David Piatt, an American communist film critic, which were translated from English into an abridged Chinese version by readers of the New York Labour Times, but also of some texts contributed by Chinese authors.
The first article Hollywood movies (Haolaiwu dianying 好萊塢電影) divides the world of movies into two prevalent camps: the Communist camp and the mainstream American camp. Chinese as well as Soviet Communist movies are labeled harmonious, made for the labour force with the objective to educate on labour, whereas Hollywood movies are labeled as gangster movies. The main topic here is the killing of people. Other themes might be police and imperial movies, but none employ scenes of harmony as do communist films.
As the central motive seems to be the killing of people, Hollywood movies are described as brutal and savage, also as anti-social and anti-human. The author fears that society might take up on these behaviors and might try to imitate them. But not only are the movies’ topics ruthless, they also attempt to discredit sympathies towards communism, Piatt mentions the movie The Woman on Pier 13 (Alternative title: I married a Communist, released in 1949) as an example. In further search of the harmony-theme the author then ventures towards 'friendship movies', all of which seem to feature the so-called "blacks’ fight for freedom".
Apart from these content related examinations, the author remarks that the whole industry in the background is an anti-social construct, as the industry’s capital is only wielded by few production companies.
The third article in this short book is a translation of a text stemming from a London newspaper called Communist Review. It is titled Hollywood’s Art of Killing (Haolaiwu de sharen yishu 好萊塢的殺人藝術) and debates why crime rates in the US have been rising. Piatt connects the horrors of war with the topicalization of murder, violence and crime in Hollywood cinema. He points out that mainly lower social classes are involved in these crimes, as they resist the wealthy. Also, he observes that suddenly, after the war, female villains are shown and punished on-screen, when before they never appeared in these roles. By listing some of the crudest movies in his opinion and by giving examples of how these movies and negative topics affect real-life criminality, Piatt emphasizes the bad influence these movies have on society. Piatt does not argue for a harmonious society in this article but he frequently stresses the fact, that American movies tend to display anti-social behavior which goes against human nature.
Another article elaborates on the Invasion [of Chinese cinemas] by Hollywood (Haolaiwu de qinlüe 好萊塢的侵略). The author criticizes the fact that US movies make up the large part of ticket sales in Chinese cinemas and claims that from the money from US movie ticket sales during the last five years (1945 - 1950) in China, Chinese directors could make 1800 Chinese movies. This implies that most of the money made through ticket sales goes back to the USA instead of supporting the Chinese movie industry. It is not only necessary to try to prohibit the showing of US movies because of the money that is transferred back to the USA, but also because these movies "poison the Chinese people“, as already elaborated on in the articles above.
In order to rid China of US movies the author suggests an increase in Chinese productions to meet the demand of the Chinese where movies and entertainment are concerned. Also, this text touches upon the fear of US infiltration of the Chinese market through movies. Apart from prohibiting US movies completely, another suggestion to control movie airings is made: the movies to be shown on screen were to be monitored and scheduled by a chosen authority.
Bringing Movies to the Countryside (1950)
The use of cinema in China was a powerful weapon of propaganda in the modernization process in 20th century China. A true breakthrough occurred in the year 1949 when film production and distribution came under state control, with politics and art closely intertwined.
In fact, the CCP’s interest and penetration into the movie industry had already started during its conflict with Japan and KMT. After the Communist triumph in mainland China, the whole industry was soon under the complete control of the Party. Not only did the CCP establish the strict centralized administration of cinema, the newborn regime also imposed direct management on both movie production process and distribution-exhibition affairs. On top of the industry was Central Film Bureau (中央电影局), an office under the Ministry of Culture, regulating all film-related business. In the year of 1951, the creation of China Film Corporation (中国电影公司) together with the nationalization of several hundred theaters, laid the foundation of the state-supervised mechanism of film distribution and exhibition in urban areas. Certainly, the Party state could not afford to ignore the vast land of rural population upon which its legitimacy was especially relying until then. That probably constituted the primary cause for the sending of “projection teams” (放映队), a flexible instrument that would bring to the countryside profound impact in both ideological and cultural sense.
Projection teams were originally designed for maximizing the propaganda effect of socialist cinema on factories, mines, villages, and military camps — sections of society so far largeky underprivileged to the access of media entertainment. Later, it became the entity that mainly targeted rural audiences. Examinations of over-time newspaper reports and short memoires clearly reflect such a shift as well as the political functions that projection teams were expected to serve. From the mid-1950s, the films that project teams brought to the villages were intended for a range of essential social needs, including the peasants’ cultural life (人民的文化生活), gaining of new information (including scientific and pragmatic knowledge on agricultural production under the category of science education films 科学教育片), and the strengthening of socialist and patriotic values (社会主义、爱国主义教育). Movie projection activities were not only considered helpful for peasants to distinguish between good and evil (帮助农民辨明是非), but also deemed more effective than conventional ways of persuasion (因为电影的内容具体生动，比一般口头的宣传教育工作更富有说服力). Thus, workers of the projection teams were not only expected to be technically professional, but more importantly, politically sensitive and persuasive. Personnel training and team organization, therefore, were taken as a politically important task, and required cooperation and mobilization at a national level. The following text taken from the Newsletter of Science Dissemination (Kexue puji tongxun 科学普及通讯), the journal printed for issuing the official guidelines of science dissemination, discussing practical work, and exchanging experiences. In November 1949, shortly after the establishment of the PRC the Bureau of Science Dissemination under the leadership of the Ministry of Culture of the Central People's Government (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu wenhuabu kexue pujiju 中央人民政府文化部科学普及局) was founded. After seven discussion meetings (zuotanhui 座谈会) between December 1949 and January 1950 it was recognized that science dissemination should be concerted efforts of cultural institutions, and this included the conscious use of movies shown by projectors. The document below shows how projectors functioned and how they should serve the purpose of disseminating scientific and political knowledge in the countryside.
The number of projection teams increased steadily over the four decades prior to the media commercialization that took place in the 1990s. With about only 100 in 1950, the figure had grown 100 times by the time the Cultural Revolution was spreading nationwide and imposed stagnation on the movie industry. However, after the 10-year disaster was brought to an end, projection teams immediately enjoyed the largest boom. Their number reached 80,000 in the late 1970s and 120,000 in the 1980s — their heyday. During these two decades, the surprising growth and popularity of projection teams as well as their variant — rural exhibition outlets (农村集镇剧场) — had testified to the crucial role that rural film projection had played in creating a social atmosphere, through which most Chinese peasants might learn that how they were supposed to adapt their closed, narrow everyday experience to a vast, political construction of nation-state, both morally and psychologically.
Therefore, treating “projection teams” as a network of political communications would generate enormous implications in understanding the pattern and the effect of interaction between the CCP (as idea-maker) and the peasants (as audience), a communication process that has survived the Maoist period when having a closer look at movie magazines published around the turn of 1970s and 1980s, such as the periodical Dianying Puji 电影普及 (1981-1987). As a professional journal (业务杂志), Dianying Puji was realized by a state-owned corporation and published under the Ministry of Culture. It specifically targeted the projection teams and exhibition outlets. The journal mainly provided a platform for both vertical and horizontal communications. Usually, guidance of major policies in the field were informed first, and the rest of each issue encompasses three main categories: (1) the sharing of personal working methods and experiences between professionals; (2) information on technical knowledge and problems; (3) discussion of administration issues. Though the relative broad scope of Dianying Puji provides access to diverse insights ranging from national/local political-economic concerns to grass-root perception and understanding of movie technology, the most intriguing sort of data would be the category that offers a first-hand account by projection team workers, with regard to that how they managed to engage with their “barefoot” audience in the daily and vivid journey to certain politically correct understanding of the films. For example, a projection worker once reported joyfully to readers that he had successfully taught his farmer audience the importance of “technical modernization” (one of the four modernizations 四化 of the post-Mao CCP agenda) by establishing the link between the issue and the movie he showed —— The Naval Battle of 1894 甲午风云, which told the story of Qing’s humiliating defeat at the hands of the Japanese navy in the First Sino-Japanese War.
Dianying puji 电影普及, journal publ. by Dianying puji bianjibu 电影普及编辑部. Beijing: Zhongguo dianying faxing fangying gongsi 中国电影发行放映公司.
Renmin dianying 人民电影, journal publ. by Renmin dianying bianji weiyuanhui 人民电影编辑委员会. Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe.
Dianyingyuan, dianying fangyingdui ying zhongshi yingpian neirong de jieshuo gongzuo 电影院、电影放映队应重视影片内容的解说工作, in: Renmin Ribao, 25 August 1952.
Dianying fangyingdui bangzhu nongmin bianming shifei 电影放映队帮助农民辨明是非, in: Renmin Ribao, 21 December 1957.
Gong nong bing qunzhong xiai kejiao yingpian 工农兵群众喜爱科教影片, in: Renmin Ribao, 2 April 1965.
Guanyu fazhan nongcun dianying fangyingdui wenti 关于发展农村电影放映队问题, in: Renmin Ribao, 5 May 1982.
Hughes-Warrington, Marnie (2007): History Goes to the Movies. London & New York: Routledge.
Renmin dianying shiye mengjin - bennian nai jiang zhi xinpian yibailiushi yu bu - wei gong nong bing kuozeng fangyingdui zhi qibaige 人民电影事业猛进 本年内将制新片一百六十余部 为工农兵扩增放映队至七百个, in: Renmin Ribao, 1 March 1950.
Xu Xiaxiang 徐霞翔 (2009): Toushi nongcun dianying fangyyingyuan -- yi ershi shiji wushi niandai Jiangsu sheng wei li 透视农村电影放映员──以二十世纪五十年代江苏省为例, in: Ershiyi shiji 二十一世纪, no. 84 (internet edition of the journal Ershiyi shiji, see http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/ics/21c/m_supplem_c.htm).
Zhang, Yingjin (2004): Chinese National Cinema. New York & London: Routledge.
Zhang, Yingjin & Xiao, Zhiwei (1998) (eds.): Encyclopedia of Chinese Film. New York & London: Routledge.
Anti-Chinese Propaganda by the Czechoslovakian Communist Party (1965)
This book, entitled The Anti-Chinese Propaganda aired by the Czechoslovakian Communist Party (Jiekesiluofake Gongchandang fan-Hua yanlun 捷克斯洛伐克共产党反华言论, 1965) offers a detailed insight into the deep feeling of insecurity in the People’s Republic of China which was caused by the reshuffling of the geopolitical situation in the early 1960s that in the end led to the irreconcilable split between the two global powers in communism, the Soviet Union and China.
The book starts with reports that the leaders of some communist states have succumbed to the Soviet guidelines, following the radical anti-Chinese propaganda since the publication of the „Open Letter of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee to all Party Organizations, to all Communists in the World” from July 14, 1963. Until July 1964 more than 16 states took part in the anti-Chinese propaganda. In fact, theirs does not differ much from the Soviet example as the authors show in their study of relevant sources and publications.
Jiekesiluofake huabao 捷克斯洛伐克画报, No. 2, 6/1956
The Chinese translators emphasize that this book was published so as to understand the anti-Chinese propaganda as well as its function within the Communist International. The goal is to enlighten cadres of the CCP about Soviet anti-Chinese actions and to protect them against dangers afflicted to the Party and Marxism-Leninism.
The book contains (apart from a Chinese preface) uncommented translations of 76 articles published by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia between July 15, 1963 and October 14, 1964. Modeled after an earlier publication introducing Anti-Chinese propaganda in Soviet newspapers and journals (苏联报刊反华言论), it was first released in December 1965 as an internal publication (neibu duwu). The translated articles criticize Beijing’s failure in the Great Leap Forward strongly, reject China’s ambitions to become a nuclear power and finally accuse the CCP of splitting the communist movement when claiming that Josip Broz Tito (1892 - 1980) was a Soviet agent, while the Soviets accused the Albanian leader Enver Hoxha (1908 - 1985) of being a Chinese agent. When in June 1960 on a congress of the Rumanian Communist Party Khrushchev (1894 - 1971) and Peng Zhen (1902 - 1997), Beijing’s mayor and member of the Politburo, clashed publicly, the Sino-Soviet split was completed and set an end to the friendly relations between Czechoslovakia and China that once had enabled the publication of a costly high-quality magazine called Czechoslovak Life that was also available in Chinese translation (捷克斯洛伐克画报). Being a part of Czechoslovakian propaganda abroad this magazine — published from 1953 until the early 1960s (last issue that I have found dates from December 1962) — provided the Chinese audience with deep insights in the modernization successes of the Eastern European country that were achieved also thanks to the communist solidarity with the Soviet Union.
Jiekesiluofake huabao 捷克斯洛伐克画报, No. 4, 12/1955
The text of this month now paints a completely different picture. It is an insightful primary source in the conflict between the Soviet Union and the PRC. The conflict’s origin goes back to the late 1950s when Moscow – alarmed by the chaos in China after the Great Leap Forward – withdrew its offer to further support the PRC in its development, which also included the building of nuclear bombs. In 1959 Khrushchev met with Eisenhower, the President of the US, but refused to assist the PRC in its border conflict with India. Mao interpreted these actions as a big willingness on the Soviet side to cooperate with the West (such as in the case of Cuban missile crisis in 1962 where Premier Khrushchev withdraw instead of continuing confrontation), resulting in 1963 finally in the Chinese refusal to agree to the Limited Test Ban Treaty signed by the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain in July 1963 that banned all nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in space, or underwater. The Chinese position on that matter was that this treaty was merely a deceiving scheme preventing China from developing its own defense abilities. This was the one of the final developments convincing Mao Zedong that the break with the USSR was more than justified. From September 1963 to July 1964, Mao published nine open letters criticizing every political view of Khrushchev. In the end, the fight between Khrushchev and Mao for the leadership claim of the communist movement resulted in a split – the schism of world communism.
Jiekesiluofake huabao 捷克斯洛伐克画报, No. 1, 3/1955
Marc A. Matten
Resisting America and Aiding Korea in Early 1950s Exhibitions － the case of the 抗美援朝运动中的东北与朝鲜图集 (1951)
Shortly after the founding of the People’s Republic the Chinese Communist Party soon faced existential problems caused by geopolitical shifts in the East Asian region. The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 — since then largely seen as a proxy war — was not only seen as a war concerning the rivaling forces on the Korean peninsula, but one where the great powers tested their strength, with certainly Korea and probably China becoming the victim of the conflict. When the new government in Beijing engaged in propagating its ideology on a nation-wide scale in 1949 it was not only the fight for hygiene and the dissemination of technological and technical knowledge that was communicated, but also knowledge on the global situation that should make the Chinese people vigilant. Patriotism at that time was considered to be founded on class politics and the Cold War mentality that emphasized the confrontation between capitalist and socialist camps.
In December 1950, the People’s Central Science Hall in Beijing mounted an exhibition of “The Northeast and Korea”, using (the rhetoric of) science to naturalize the political and military campaign of “resisting America and aiding Korea.” This exhibition was a major one, drawing an audience of up to 8,000 per day. Like many lectures given by renowned scientists in the hall between 1950 and 1951, most of its visual and textual materials were published in book form to extend their influence beyond the limits of time and space of the exhibition per se. Combined with a descriptive report on the exhibition, the materials in this book allow us to reconstruct the exhibition as an imagined spectator.
The exhibition consists of three parts. The first part argues, with maps and statistic figures, that the attempt of the “American imperialist” to build its hegemony over the world is doomed. The second part employs artifacts – specimens, models, replicas, etc. – to demonstrate the strategic importance of the Northeast for the economic development of the new China. The last part introduces Korea as a strategic partner and ideological comrade of China and accuses the “American imperialist” of invading Korea. As spectator, we first encounter a large globe of one meter in diameter at the entrance of the exhibition, which visualizes the distribution of the two political camps. Following the Soviet Union, the only socialist country, are the “new democratic countries” – China, Mongolia, Korea, and East Europe. Peoples rising up against imperialism, indicated by little figures holding guns in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Greece, etc., also show the growing influence of the socialist camp. The rest of the world are the “followers” and “slaves” in the “imperialist camp led by the US.” Despite the visual message, however, the caption predicts that the “peaceful and democratic camp led by the Soviet Union” is becoming stronger everyday while that led by the American imperialists is declining. This prediction is backed up by a map and a table including undefined “left-leaning” people and those “advocating peace and democracy” – which more or less covering the whole world – as power against the “American imperialist.” Having predicted the doomed fate of the “imperialist camp,” the exhibition goes on showing “The Futile Dream of the American Imperialist to Besiege China.”
The “American imperialist,” according to the map legend, is represented by a caricature of the head of Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), who was leading the United Nations Command at the time. From this caricatured head shoot out three bold arrows over the Pacific, indicating the major directions that the “American imperialist” will go to besiege China. One of them is directed to Japan which furcates towards Korea. Others aim at American navy and air force bases in South and other parts of East Asia. Mainland China, the object of the alleged besiege, is defined not just by its borders and territory, but also by the three soldier figures vigilantly facing three directions – except for that of Mongolia and the Soviet Union. The one facing Korea levels up his gun and appears more on alert. The apparent objectivity of the map – or the plan of attack – is undermined by its legend which constantly uses the derogatory “American imperialist” (Meidi 美帝) to refer to the US and a caricature to refer to the United Nations Command. Therefore, this illustration in fact intends to kindle patriotism by arousing emotion against the US. The assumption that such unsubtle, thinly-veiled hostility imposed on the map would work with the spectator shows that the exhibition was expecting spectators of relatively low education.
Assured that the “American imperialist” is doomed, the spectator enters the second part of the exhibition, which shows the strategic importance of the six provinces of the Northeast for the new China. Possessing rich natural resources and the most developed transportation system and industry, the textual explanation argues, this area is key to the economic development of China. This point is demonstrated by several maps illustrating its agriculture, forestry, industry, transportation infrastructure as well as the area’s ability of accommodating immigrants. They are, in turn, supported by a selection of specimens of agricultural and textile products, furs, wood, minerals, replicas of blast furnace from Anshan Iron and Steel Works and a model of Fengman hydroelectric power station (a project starting by Manchukuo since 1937). This part intends to convince the spectator of the current productivity and future potential of the Northeast, which should lead them to conclude that the Northeast has to be protected in order to build a wealthy and strong new China.
The third part of the exhibition, in contrast to the first part which intends to arouse hatred of the US, attempts to cultivate in the spectator the feeling of camaraderie towards the Korean people. Photos are presented to show the beautiful landscape of Korea, the sufferings of the Korean people as well as the “waking-up” American prisoners of war protesting the invasion of Korea. The maps are used to argue that Korea can be used as the springboard by the US to grab the Northeast of China. If the spectator follows the three parts of the exhibition as intended by its designer, then the knowledge and emotion s/he develops would correspond and be reinforced by the slogans written in six lines of big characters on the wall of the exit: “To liberate Korea/ To safeguard our Northeast/ To realize the independence of China/ To achieve the victory of the peaceful and democratic camp/ We have no choice/ But resolutely resist America and aid Korea” .
With the benefit of hindsight, we know that the “American imperialist’s” invasion of Korea was not true. Yet before we dismiss the exhibition as a piece of propaganda, it may be more interesting to ask why this exhibition was held in the People’s Central Science Hall in the first place, that is, how did this exhibition argue for the necessity, if not inevitability, of the campaign of “resisting America and aiding Korea” in the framework of science dissemination? In fact, the exhibition was part of the on-going ideological campaigns of instilling patriotism, socialism, and historical materialism into the minds of the population.
In the short preface of the book of the exhibition materials the editors Chen Li and Jin Ruishen said that the book, whose main contents are pictures, was devoted to readers of higher primary school education, which means those with about four to five years of schooling. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that this audience was also the prospective spectator. For this audience, the science hall plays an authoritative role of education, which determines what counts as scientific knowledge. In this exhibition, the ideological agenda and political mobilization are naturalized as knowledge of geography. By “drawing on science as a powerful publicly accessible and universally valid rhetorical resource,”  this exhibition claims the truthfulness of its contents, a claim in turn cemented by its location in the science hall. The convincing argument in it was the constant — even if implicit — referral to the authentic character of the maps and photos, i.e. by claiming their objectivity as geographical knowledge and truthful record of facts. In addition, artifacts such as specimens, models, and replicas are presented as “other tangible ‚evidence'”  to increase the power of persuasion. As any other exhibitions, this exhibition uses these visual and tangible evidence to present a way of ordering the world: seeing the world and making sense of it. Dividing the whole globe is divided into two camps led by two superpowers, China allies itself with the good – progressive and peace-loving – side of the Soviet Union. The geography of the Northeast, on the other hand, is understood in the sense of economic profitability and development for the newly founded China. This ordering of the world not only was conveyed to the spectator as “truthful” scientific knowledge, but also intended to appeal to their sentiment and emotion. It lifts them out of their everyday life and inviting them “to think like a statesman, to feel responsible for the entire country …, and, more importantly, was expected to do so” (Schmid 2006: 335). This sense of responsibility would shape a public identity – hence patriotism, which would also be reinforced by hatred that may be aroused by the emotional use of the derogatory word “the American imperialist” and McArthur's caricature to refer to the US on the map.
Chen Li 陈励, Jin Ruishen 金瑞莘 (1951): Kangmei yuanchao yundong zhong de dongbei yu chaoxian tuji 抗美援朝运动中的东北与朝鲜图集. Shanghai: Zhonghua shuju.
Jin Ruishen 金瑞莘 (1951): “Beijing shi juban ’Dongbei yu chaoxian’ zhanlanhui”, in: Kexue pubji gongzuo , p. 11-12.
Macdonald, Sharon (ed.) (1998): The Politics of Display: Museums, Science, Culture. London and New York: Routledge.
Schmid, Sonja (2006): Celebrating Tomorrow Today: The Peaceful Atom on Display in the Soviet Union, in: Social Studies of Science, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 331-365.
 Jin Ruishen 1951: 11-12
 Schmid 2006: 356
 Macdonald 1998: 11
Gazetteer of Extraordinary Output (1957)
1957 was remarkable in terms of the drastic influence that its happenings would cast on Chinese politics and economy. It was the year of Rectification Campaign [整风], and Anti-Rightist Movement [反右]. And the same year also witnessed the inauguration of the second Five-Year Plan [五年计划], which would eventually lead Chinese economy into a disastrous journey, widely known as the Great Leap Forward [大跃进]. The initiative of such movement started to take form around the conclusion of a nationwide debate over the official line of development between the radicals and the moderates within the Party. As the result, Mao Zedong, who had grown increasing dissatisfied with his perceived conservativism [保守主义], decided to curb the illness of “opposing incautious advance” [反冒进] in economic area. Zhou Enlai, the leading figure of the moderate camp, thus had given up his stand, giving way to a fever of “greater-and-faster” [多、快] manner to develop socialist economy. This move finally put Great Leap Forward in its place, whose inauguration was signaled by a commentary on People’s Daily.
As for rural China, socialist transformation was brought to an unprecedented degree of success by the end of 1957. Ninety percentage of rural population had already been organized under advanced cooperatives [高级合作社], although the excessively rapid pace of achieving so caused a great deal of discontent, as well as widespread resistance. However, in the same year, a blueprint of agricultural development between 1956 and 1967[一九五六年到一九六七年全国农业发展纲要], passed by the CCP Central Committee, implied a much more radical move to take place for the year to come.
Such is the grand context of history where the Gazetteer of Extraordinary Output, 1957 [高产志, GEO] was given birth. GEO is one of the three gazetteers that the Ministry of Agriculture [中华人民共和国农业部] compiled between 1957 and 1960. Each of those was released to showcase the outstanding productivity that was made possible through the cooperative movement [合作化] and socialist revolution of political thinking [政治思想上的社会主义革命], along with the purpose to disseminate the advanced experiences of farming. The 1957 volume, for example, is comprised of four sections, concentrating respectively on the four major categories of farming product: (1) main crop, (2) cash crop, (3) oil crop, and (4) stock-breeding. Heading each section is a list that contains a large number of selected cooperatives across the country, whose outputs of specific crop broke the national records. And most pages of the book are provided for those role-model cooperatives to share their farming experiences that led to such high outputs. Through the statistics that cover a wide range of locations, GEO may give one a clearer sense of the “Wind of Exaggeration” [浮夸风] at its infant stage. The figures listed are still very much “moderate,” compared to common cases when the Leap Forward was carried to an extreme. But they are already hardly reliable as an objective reflection of what’s going on back then.
However, the true value of the Gazetteer lies in the fact that it is representative of the widespread pattern of political behavior among rural cadres, and more importantly, of the interaction between local bureaucratic behavior and central ideological line under the socialist system of control. For instance, the recorded local farming experiences almost unanimously unfold with a similar structure, namely, what had been specified by the agricultural blueprint [农业发展纲要] as “eight-character constitution” [八字宪法]: water conservancy [水], fertilizer [肥], improving soil [土], good seed [种], intensively planted [密], removing insect-and-disease damage [害], improving instrument [工], field management [管]. This reveals, thus, more of a local following-up of central dictation rather than of specific experience from the grass-root. And the fact that majority of those experiences are directly provided by provincial bureau of agriculture also says much (though implicitly) about the primary actors to promote and radicalize agricultural policies for people’s communization movement [人民公社化运动] in 1958. Another noteworthy part is a lengthy showcase of “method of leadership” [领导方法] in various role-model counties and cities. That provides researchers with more representative, yet qualitative understanding of local governments’ way to organize farming in the period of planned economy.
高产志（一九五七）/ 中华人民共和国农业部编 — 北京：农业出版社, 1958年7月
A Decade of Socialist Architecture, 1949-1959
The entanglement between power and architecture is a phenomenon which may be as old as human society itself. Architecture is able to function as one of the most common vehicles of power not only because of the symbolic and awe-inspiring effects that it activates through its products. Furthermore, the acts to design, plan, and construct buildings are part of the general way that power operates in occupying landscape and controlling the human body spatially. Therefore, the systematic organization of architectural space not only facilitates physical surveillance of human behavior, but also tends to create a much broader sense of aesthetics, where the ideological frameworks such as hierarchy, marginalization, segregation, and so on, are implicitly made to permeate.
This was especially pertinent to China in the period of 1950s as well as in that of the contemporary reformed period. As the CCP regime came to being, architecture was soon put under its ideological guideline and transformed into a visual weapon to shape and consolidate a new power structure that the Communist state intended. Architectural issues, thus, also fell into a battle field where a new, scientific political order tried to rule out the old, corrupt one. An illustrative example would be the debate over the re-planning of Beijing City around 1955. Liang Sicheng, a renowned scholar of architecture who voiced his support for a protective plan, was criticized through official mouthpiece for “restoring the tradition” [复古主义] and his “capitalist idealism” [资产阶级唯心主义]. The politicization of architectural profession, thus, has given birth to a term: “socialist architecture” [社会主义建筑设计], whose legacy is still very much present in urban China today.
The source introduced here, A Decade of Architecture, 1949 – 1959 [建筑设计十年，1949 – 1959], is of documentary value of the historical context where the aforementioned architectural revolution came out of. A Decade is a photo collection published in 1959 by the Chinese Ministry of Construction [中华人民共和国建筑工程部] as an exhibition of ten-year achievement of architectural design and works. The album is divided into three sections: Industrial Architecture [工业建筑], Civil Architecture [民用建筑], and Architecture in Rural Communes [农村人民公社建筑]. Each of the first two sections further consists of detailed sub-divisions, sorted according to different functions of their buildings. One point of interest is certainly its large number of building and landscape scenes, along with a considerable amount of standardized general layout plans. Yet, for scholars of Chinese politics, more attention may be put to those general and specific introductions that preceded each category of photos, which are both the excellent traces of logic and mindset behind the mega-project of modernizing Chinese cities, on the one hand; and the mirror of the newly cultivated socialist aesthetics, on the other.
Consider the very historical background of the book’s publication - The Great Leap Forward -, it is no surprise to find that the whole messages of A Decade is to make showcase of the Party’s central propaganda:
But its argument focuses more specifically on that how the architectural profession was made different by nature from the architecture under capitalist system: Socialist architecture is no longer constrained by what has dominated building design and construction in capitalist societies, which is the pursuit of profit, pleasure, and personal reputation. In the new society, this was not in accord with the interests of the people. Socialist architecture is to meet the genuine interest and need of the masses. Therefore, socialist architecture aims to remove the irrational design generated by capitalism, referring mainly to the waste of productivity. And it is based on such logic that socialist architecture is required to “positively reflect the spirit of the time, and the general condition of social life……and create a socialist new style of architecture in China” [“建筑要从正面表现时代精神，反应社会生活的一般面貌……创造我国社会主义的建筑新风格。”]. What finally emerged as the result of national policy discussion was a corresponding principle to guide all architect after 1955: Be pragmatic, economical; and pay some attention to style while it is affordable according to conditions [适用、经济、在可能条件下注意美观]; and to function as an ideological filter in ruling out competitive trends that does not fit in the new order, such as restoring the tradition [复古主义], functionism [功能主义], and structuralism [结构主义], whose main guilt is either to lean too much over the past, or to go too far to reduce architecture’s role in manifesting ideas and spirit of the time.
建筑设计十年，1949 – 1959/ 中华人民共和国建筑工程部 & 中国建筑学会
 Findley, Lisa (2005), Building Change Architecture, Politics and Cultural Agency, London and New York: Routledge, p. 3
Why Did A Plough Matter? (1958)
“Do you support adopting two-wheeled, doubled-share plough [双轮双铧犁]?”
Imagine that you were a Chinese farmer earning a living during the late-1950s, and not showing positive attitude to this question; then you might be well running the risk of being labeled as a person of conservative thought [保守思想] or, even worse, a rightist [右派分子]. Just as what a 1958’s commentary in People’s Daily pointed out:
While the system of means of production was undergoing a transition from private ownership to collective ownership, and also two-wheeled double-share plough was spread to replace their old-fashioned counterparts, consolidating the ownership of the collectives, the resentment toward socialism among certain groups of rich farmers, the conservative thought and customary forces of peasants, [……] together with the storms and waves stirred by rightists had converged into a reactionary stream [……] This was the main reason for which two-wheeled double-share plough could not be widely employed.
当生产资料的个体私有制改变为集体公有制的时候，当推广双轮双铧犁来代替旧犁并巩固集体公有制的时候，一些富裕农民对社会主义额抵制情绪及农民保守思想和习惯势力的一面 [……] 再加上右派分子们从中兴风作浪，就一度形成了反对双轮双铧犁的一股逆流 [……] 这是双铧犁不能推广的主要原因。[i]
Yet, why did the very plough matter to such an extent? Or, put it in another way, why was a problem, technical by nature, politicized; why was choosing between farming instruments made a serious indicator of political stand? This is a puzzle, to which researchers are easily tempted to explain with simplification, such as the typical ideology-dominance model in accounting for policy-making in the Maoist period. But this is actually an issue whose implication cannot be properly revealed unless one pays more attention to the decision-making context where it came into being.
The two-wheeled, doubled-share (TWDS) plough was originally an import from the Soviet Union during the First Five-Year Plan. This was the period when the CCP, considering China’s limited industrial capacity, developed a gradual blueprint of agricultural mechanization from the beginning of its reign. At that time, the use of farming machines like tractors was promoted along with the call for improving old-fashioned implements and the innovative ones [改良旧式农具，推广新式农具]. But before long, priority was placed on the latter from the mid-1950s as a transitional step, due to practical constraints such as labor surplus.[ii] Compared to its Chinese counterparts, the animal-drawn TWDS plough is much more complex in structure and, according to some reports, 60% more efficient.[iii] Nevertheless, its shortcomings are also apparent. First and foremost, while the plough was regarded “suitable for cultivating sandy or light clay soils” in a faster and deeper manner, it did not fit “China’s terraced and small farm plots,” especially the rice fields of South China. Moreover, the implement often appeared too complex to be used by peasants with limited technical knowledge, and also too expensive for individual households to afford.[iv]
Despite the disadvantages, TWDS plough became the focal point of a nationwide, state-driven “marketing” from the mid-1950s, and eventually came to be entangled with the struggle between the policy line of “anti-rash advance” [反冒进] and that of “leap forward”[跃进]. In the famous Forty Treaties of Agriculture [农业四十条，the shortened title of 一九五六年到一九六七年全国农业发展纲要草案] formulated in 1956, Mao Zedong dictated that six-million TWDS ploughs should be produced and distributed within three or five years. Corresponding the plan was a mounting momentum of radical collectivization, which would be imposed upon over 90% of rural households by the end of this year, and a sudden surge of investment in GDP.[v] The trend, however, was effectively calmed down by a coalition of moderate leaders, including Zhou Enlai and Liu Shaoqi under the slogan: “oppose rash advance.” On June 20th, a signal commentary in People’s Daily, for example, even cited the improper spread of TWDS plough in South China as an exemplified consequence of unrealistic economic planning.[vi] Although such an orientation was further affirmed by the 8th Congress of the CCP in September, the radicalized adoption of TWDS plough was not curbed. For instance, its excessive production resulted in 1.7 million ploughs in 1956 alone. Only half of the sum was sold to peasants; around one sixth of them were returned, and a large number of ploughs among the rest were also not able to be used, ending up being hanged in farmers’ house [挂在墙上无法使用的“挂犁”].[vii] Into the 1957, however, the changing climate in the international Communist camp brought about an opportunity for Mao, who had been unhappy with the move of anti-rash advance, to contain the moderates. The campaigns of Rectification [整风] and Anti-Rightist [反右] successfully paved the way to Mao’s criticism of “opposing rash advance” in the late 1957. Zhou Enlai and other moderate leaders were forced to step back, making self-criticism and abandoning their cautious stand in economic development.[viii] Accompanying the resurgence of Mao’s line of great-and-fast development [多、快], there was also a movement initiated from the beginning of 1958 to “restore the reputation of TWDS plough” [为双轮双铧犁恢复名誉] across the country. But as aforementioned, now the reason to its unpopularity was largely attributed to the ideological backwardness among peasants and local cadres, and their politically incorrect attack on the “superiority of TWDS plough [双轮双铧犁的优越性].”[ix] A plough, in a sense, was turned a symbol of the triumph of one political line over the other.
Reviewing the episode towards the eve of the Great Leap Forward, the case of TWDS plough is legitimate to invite explanations from, at least, two important aspects of PRC’s policymaking, apart from some conventionally-held ideological factors. The first concerns the underlying pragmatic logic behind the political decision that the universal adoption of TWDS plough is strategically crucial for China’s mechanization of farming. The radical camp led by Mao was apparently not blinded to the weakness of the implement and a number of malpractices regarding the official acts to spread its use.[x] But they seemed to firmly stick to the belief that by continuous technical modification, TWDS plough was possible to be adapted to almost all circumstances of farming. This tendency has been clearly shown by the official propaganda’s emphasis upon “overcoming rightist, conservative thought” [克服右倾保守思想] through many examples of the successful use of TWDS plough in originally unsuited lands.[xi] What actually motivated Mao and relevant decision-makers during the mid-1950s to prefer such a universalism rather than pluralism in the choice of ploughing techniques, however, is not yet known. Further examination, on the one hand, would be devoted to detailed decision-making debates over agricultural mechanization prior to the release of Forty Treaties of Agriculture. On the other hand, it may also pays off in investigating a possible linkage between the use of TWDS plough and Mao and Liu Shaoqi’s conflict over the priority of agricultural modernization. While Liu preferred to postpone collectivization for the sake of achieving the mechanization of farming, the view of Mao was exactly the reverse.[xii] This disagreement, thus, might well motivated Mao to make use of the spread of new implements which individual household could hardly afford, in speeding up the process of organizing collectives. Yet, the confirmation of either possible explanation requires access to more propaganda pamphlets and governmental archives.
Furthermore, the politicization of TWDS plough may both derive explanatory factors from and shed more light on the pattern of alliance-making between central and provincial leaders in the 1950s. A preliminary look of evidence suggests that provincial reactions to the central advocacy of TWDS plough might vary, in accordance with different political interests of provincial leaders and their personal ties to central leaders. Zhejiang province, for example, especially played an active role in promoting the plough throughout the period leading to the restoration of TWDS plough’s reputation in the early 1958, while its party secretariat, Jiang Hua held a strong factional tie to Mao Zedong.[xiii] Also, the provinces that seemed to be most active in promoting TWDS plough were tended to be headed by those secretariats who started to hold their positions from around 1955.[xiv] This phenomenon may indicate the common strategy for the newly appointed provincial leaders to safeguard their ladder of success through reacting more positively to the central line backed by Mao Zedong. Those potential variables, however, have to be interpreted within the broader context of intra-bureaucratic competition between provincial leaders over higher political credentials, whose pattern and impact had been more cleared manifested in the “Wind of Exaggeration” [浮夸风] during the Great Leap Forward.[xv]
In general, the politics surrounding TWDS plough would constitute a promising case study in making sense of the logic of policy-making, and also dynamics between formal and informal institutions of bureaucracy in the early PRC. But in doing so, one should always try to take in to consideration the full range of potential factors behind the scene. Nevertheless, while avoiding leaning solely on ideologies as causes, we should also be aware of the risk to reduce the major actors into purely rational decision makers immune from ideational influence.
双轮双铧犁/农业部农业机械管理局编 – 北京：财政经济出版社，1955.
双轮双铧犁讲话/农村青年社编 – 中国青年出版社，1956.
使用双轮双铧犁问答/浙江省农业厅农业机械管理局编 – 杭州：浙江人民出版社，1956.
恢复双轮双铧犁的名誉/农业部机械局编 – 北京：农业出版社，1958.
中华人民共和国经济和社会发展计划大事辑要, 1949 – 1985/《当代中国的计划工作》办公室 – 北京：红旗出版社, 1986.
人民日报，关于“双轮双铧犁”文章及社论, 1954 – 1959.
[ii] Hsu, Robert C. (1979), “Agricultural Mechanization in China: Policies, Problems, and Prospects,” Asian Survey, Vol. 19, No. 5, p. 437.
[iii] 双轮双铧犁与中国新式农具推广工作/朱显灵 胡化凯 – 当代中国史研究，第16卷,第3期, 2009, p. 57.
[iv] 双轮双铧犁讲话/农村青年社编 – 中国青年出版社, 1956, p. 6; Kuo, Leislie T.C. (1964), “Agricultural Mechanization in Communist China,” The China Quarterly, No.17, pp. 143 – 144.
[v] 一九五六年到一九六七年全国农业发展纲要（草案）/中共中央政治局，1956.1.23; Bramall, Chris (2009), Chinese Economic Development, London & New York: Routledge, pp.122 – 123.
[vi] 要反对保守主义，也要反对急躁情绪/人民日报, 1956.6.20.
[vii] 若干重大决策与事件的回顾（上卷）/薄一波 – 北京：人民出版社, 1991, p. 538.
[viii] 中华人民共和国总路线，大跃进，人民公社化运动始末/宋连生 – 昆明：云南人民出版社, 2001, pp.56 – 59.
[ix] 恢复双轮双铧犁的名誉/农业部机械局编 – 北京：农业出版社，1958.
[xi] 恢复双轮双铧犁的名誉/农业部机械局编 – 北京：农业出版社，1958.
[xii] Hsu, Robert C. (1979), “Agricultural Mechanization in China: Policies, Problems, and Prospects,” Asian Survey, Vol. 19, No. 5, p. 438.
[xiii] See 江华传/《江华传》编审委员会 – 中共党史出版社, 2007.
[xiv] This is measured, for example, by the frequency of appearance on propaganda articles of TWDS plough on People’s Daily; and a complete list of provincial leaders and their tenure from 1949 to 1986 on Bartke, Wolfgang (1987), Who’s Who in the People’s Republic of China 2nd Ed., Munichp[etc]: K.G.Saur.
[xv] 江渭清回忆录/江渭清 – 南京：江苏人民出版社，pp. 428 – 435.
Foreign Devils on the Silk Road (1982)
Peter Hopkirk (1982): Sichoulu shang de waiguo mogui 丝绸路上的外国魔鬼. Lanzhou: Gansu renmin chubanshe.
This book is a translation of Peter Hopkirk’s book Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia (1980). Hopkirk (1930-2014), a British journalist who had traveled widely through Central Asia, India and China, describes in it the rediscovery of the Silk Road by scholars and adventurers in the beginning of the 20th century, amongst them Sven Hedin, Aurel Stein, Paul Pelliot and Langdon Warner (the latter became one of the models for Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones). It is one of the first books that sees the acquisition of cultural artifacts by European archeologist and travelers critically, pointing out that men like Stein and Pelliot have robbed China of its cultural treasures, hauling them to Europe by the tons, thereby also contributing to the arrogance of Western civilization, or as John Dewey put it in his 1934 work Art as Experience: “Most European museums are, among other things, memorials of the rise of nationalism and imperialism.” Nowadays these artifacts from Central Asia — especially from Dunhuang — are scattered in museums and collections all over the world, a fact that has deeply been resented given the recent calls for restitution.
Hopkirk explains in the preface that the writing of this book has profited from professor Xia Nai's 夏鼐 support, then director of the Archaeological Institute in Beijing. Xia (1919-1985) was an archaeologist who received his PhD of egyptology in 1946 at the University College London and was also a corresponding member of the British Academy. In 1944 he took up his work at the Department of Archaeology at the Institute of History and Philology at Academia Sinica (1943-1949), becoming its director in 1948. When the Academia Sinica moved to Taiwan after the Civil War, Xia stayed in China and became a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. According to his diary, Xia credited Aurel Stein with many significant archeological insights as described in the work On Ancient Central Asian Tracks (Stein’s summary of three expeditions to Central Asia), yet saw the attitude and behavior towards China’s national treasures critically.
What is special about this book is not only the cooperation between a Chinese scholar and a foreign writer, but also the fact, that it has been translated into Chinese quite quickly, namely almost within one year of its publication. The critical and accusatory description of the raids conducted by the European imperialists give the book - especially in the Chinese preface - a political character, which comes along with the reaffirmation of Chinese cultural heritage at a time when culture (and later patriotism) more and more replaced the socialist ideology. It is interesting to observe in this context that the term „Foreign Devils“ is absent in the German translation, yet is probably one reason for translating the book at all. Given the fact that Hopkirk thanks Xia Nai for his support when doing archival research for this book in Beijing and speaks for the Chinese might imply him being a victim of propaganda, but reading the book at length shows that the author shares the Chinese feeling of humiliation and calls for rightful restitution of cultural artifacts, a call that in the past few years has been on the rise due to the growing sentiment of patriotism in Chinese society. When in 2009 Cai Mingchao 蔡銘超, an advisor to China’s National Treasures Fund, bid successfully at the auction of two Old Summer Palace bronze heads that had been looted during the Second Opium War in 1860 — in Chinese modern history an event of national humiliation — he reiterates Hopkirk’s view, which shows that the call for repatriation of cultural relics is not simply a result of rising Chinese patriotism, but a global concern that is — especially after the Orientalist critique — no longer a call issued from the colonized solely.
Marc A. Matten