News under Fire: China’s Propaganda against Japan in the English- Language Press, 1928-1941 is the first comprehensive study of China’s efforts to establish an effective international propaganda system during the Sino-Japanese crisis. It explores how the weak Nationalist government managed to use its limited resources to compete with Japan in the international press. By retrieving the long neglected history of English-language papers published in the treaty ports, Shuge Wei reveals a multilayered and often chaotic English language media environment in China, and demonstrates its vital importance in defending China’s sovereignty.
Chinese bilingual elites played an important role in linking the party-led propaganda system with the treaty-port press. Yet the development of propaganda institution did not foster the realization of individual ideals. As the Sino-Japanese crisis deepened, the war machine absorbed treaty-port journalists into the militarized propaganda system and dashed their hopes of maintaining a liberal information order.
Shuge Wei is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Culture, History and Language, ANU. Her research interests include China’s media history, Sino-Japanese War and memory, political culture of the Kuomintang government, and grassroots movements in Taiwan and China. She published in distinguished journals including Modern Asian Studies and Twentieth-Century China. She is a research associate of Heidelberg University and Shih Hsin University in Taiwan.
Tessa Morris-Suzuki is Professor of Japanese History, Laureate of the Fukuoka Prize, and ARC Laureate Fellow in the College of Asia and the Pacific, ANU. Her research interests include survival politics and grassroots movements in Northeast Asia; the emergence of the Cold War in Northeast Asia; Japan’s role in the Korean War; migration and minorities in Japan and its region; and issues of historical conflict and reconciliation between the countries of Northeast Asia.
“A superbly researched and well-nuanced account of an overlooked topic: nationalist China’s propaganda system and the multiple ways in which it intersected with the treaty-port foreign-language press of the time. Combining a wealth of archival and newspaper sources, it is destined to be on the ‘must read’ list of all who are interested in state propaganda and news dissemination in the Republican period.”
—Julia C. Strauss, Professor of Chinese politics, SOAS, University of London