Mao Zedong and Korean War Propaganda: Nianpu Notes, Jan. 1951 (2)

New sources published in Beijing this past December give us further insight into Mao Zedong’s multifarious activities and ongoing strategic activities with respect to the Korean War. In addition to covering in some detail Mao’s active policy direction for the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries, the consolidation of Tibet, and land reform, the Mao Zedong Nianpu (Chronology) discuss information operations in and around Korea.

Given the kind of anti-Chinese leaflets that the US/UN were spreading around North Korea, and the flack China was taking in global public opinion, Mao’s interest in the matter was quite logical. He was always mindful of properly spinning the “Resist America, Aid Korea” campaign domestically — and it was considered important enough that the chairmanship of the committee to guide the patriotic movement within the PRC was headed by Guo Moruo, and not Mao’s wife Jiang Qing, who had very much wanted the job.

China’s moves to guide foreign journalists during the war were doubtless important and active in their Sino-French context, not to mention the Korean battlefield writings of leftist Anglophone journalists Wilfred Burchett and Alan Winnington, more about whom can likely be learned from the ongoing and highly enjoyable work of Dr. Tom Buchanan at the University of Oxford.

At any rate, here is my translation of the Mao material:

5 January 1951

Mao revises a note from the Central Military Committee [Zhongyang junwei] to Peng Dehuai in Korea on the subject of propaganda. Noting that “the whole country and whole world are carefully watching reports from the Korean War,” Mao goes on to discuss the need to publicize every battlefield victory and achievement, including “the release of prisoners of war and other important sudden steps [步骤],” all the while making sure that Xinhua, the state news agency, “does not publish or leak military secrets or conditions at the same time.” He writes: “[We] must change the current situation where Xinhua often does not publish war reports, or publishes such reports too late.” [Nianpu, Vol. 1, p. 277-278]

*All references are from Mao Zedong Nianpu, 1949-1976 [Chronology of Mao Zedong, 1949-1976], Vol. 1 (Beijing: Zhonggong zhongyang wenxian chubanshe, 2013).

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