China and the atom bomb

How is “common knowledge” different in China than elsewhere? At present of course things are increasingly the same, but that is due in part to years of education and government propaganda, but it is hard to figure out how the propaganda connects to the later popular knowledge

Ethan Persoff has posted a nice set of Chinese anti-American cartoons, which he dates to 1958-60.

I think a lot of these are coming from Russian models, since while they have a few on the Japanese as America’s evil allies there is a lot more on Germany, as above. And, there are a lot of atom bombs and H bombs. Making sense of the atom bomb took a while in the West (Orwell, for one, never seems to have gotten his head around them) but here they are everywhere and seem to be the ultimate marker of American depravity and power. Mao of course famous for valuing the power of peasant militias over modern technology, and even atomic weapons did not change this calculus for him, as the many militia pictures during the Cultural Revolution show. These cartoons were intended to convince Russians and other Europeans that the atom bomb had ushered in a new age, but they do not seem to have had that effect in China at all.

Some of these cartoons do show Russian positions that will be picked up on by later Chinese propaganda, like the importance (and existence of) the toilers of other lands

Has anyone done anything on Chinese popular understanding of the nuclear era? I’m drawing a blank.
Via Mutant Palm, which has a nice set of links to Chinese image sites.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for posting this website. I’m currently working on a project that explores international sports in the early 1960s PRC and these images aren’t that different from the cartoons I see in my work. There are some larger connections I’m exploring between these cartoons and the non-aligned movement/growing third worldism at the time, in other words: anti-Americanism = anti-imperialism + anti-colonialism.

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