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 historian based at the Australian National University. Her research interests include Chinese media history, Chinese political culture, Sino-Japanese War, and grassroots movements in China and Taiwan.
“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
“An absorbing and well-sourced study of KMT propaganda efforts to convince the United States to side with China rather than Japan in WWII. The study shows how the KMT, facing a massive power asymmetry compared to its Japanese opponent, managed to effectively use the soft power of foreign propaganda.” —Rudolf G. Wagner, senior professor of Chinese studies, Cluster of Excellence Asia and Europe, Heidelberg University, Germany