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Communication Technology and Mass Propaganda in Republican China

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The Nationalist Party’s Radio Broadcasting Policy and Organisation during the Nanjing Decade (1927–1937)

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This article analyses the policies and plans of the Nationalist Party (Guomindang, GMD) regarding wireless radio broadcasting, arguing that they laid the foundations for the development of a national-level modern cultural institution aimed, for the first time in China, at mass propaganda and education. During the Nanjing decade, notwithstanding its limits beyond the most developed urban areas, the Nationalists’ approach was the extensive use of radio broadcasting for the ‘partyfication’ (danghua) of Chinese state structure and the Chinese people’s social and cultural life. Nevertheless, their aspirations were greater than their ability to transform the plan into reality. Unable to impose an effective state monopoly on radio communication and broadcasting infrastructures, the Nationalists’ aims to exert stronger control and to gain a hegemonic position in the Chinese ‘ether’ could be achieved only by resorting to technical, administrative and legal measures whose efficacy was rather limited, because it was subordinated to a capacity to have them implemented. The Nationalists’ main accomplishments were the establishment of a powerful national radio broadcasting station under the control of the Party in Nanjing and of a central-level commission aimed at coordinating the work of the different state, Party and military bureaucracies involved in radio broadcasting propaganda.

Affiliations: 1: Ca’ Foscari University of Venice


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