On February 14, 1950, during Mao Zedong’s visit to Moscow, China and the Soviet Union signed the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance. The USSR agreed to transfer all Soviet rights and property connected with the Chinese Changchun Railway (hereinafter, CCR) to China. In addition, The Russians agreed to transfer the CCR gratis to China by the end of 1952, to withdraw Soviet forces from Port Arthur and transfer facilities there to China after conclusion of a peace treaty with Japan, or not later than the end of 1952. After Stalin’s death in 1953, Mao in 1958, stated, “We wanted the CCR but he [Stalin] wouldn’t return it. However, one can pull the meat out of the tiger’s mouth after all.” What was the meaning of Mao’s ‘tiger – meat’ metaphor? In brief, Stalin wanted the management of the CCR to be under Soviet control for as long as possible and was hesitant to negotiate its return in 1949. Mao on the other hand, wanted the rights for CCR’s joint operation since its creation. Despite these issues, the Chinese were successful in securing the return of the CCR in December 1952. There were two reasons for their success. First, the business conditions of the CCR were not favorable for Russia. The Soviet manager of the CCR, Kovalev, reported this problem to Stalin in January 1950, a month before the signing of the Sino-Soviet Treaty. According to him, the CCR was a burden to the national economy of the USSR. It is logical to surmise that Stalin accepted his opinion when agreeing to return the CCR in 1950. The second reason concerned the bargaining of the railway construction between China and the USSR. In August and September of 1952, a PRC delegation led by Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai visited Moscow for negotiations with Kremlin leaders. In the negotiations, Zhou accepted Stalin’s demand to construct a railway between Mongolia and the North of China using Chinese laborers. The railway provided a direct link to Beijing for Russians. While Zhou was agreeable during the negotiations, the Chinese were disappointed with the agreement. The Chinese had wanted to construct the Lanzhou–Xinjiang railway; however, Zhou delayed its construction at Stalin’s request. Finally, China and the USSR agreed to transfer the CCR in 1952. The returning ceremony of the CCR at the end of 1952 in Harbin became a symbolic event for the Soviet-Chinese alliance in the 1950s.
The cultural exchanges between China and the former Soviet Union in the 1950s include Chinese government’s effort in spreading the information of the advanced development of the Soviet Union as a socialist leader. In order to nurture a friendly atmosphere of Sino-Soviet relationship, Beijing utilized a series of advertisement tools from arts (such as literature and movies) to newspapers, magazines and radio broadcasting. This subject has become a well researched theme of Sino-Soviet relations. Relevant literature mainly focuses on the following two aspects. The first aims to illustrate a comprehensive picture of cultural exchanges, paying attention to Sino-Soviet Friendship Association, publications, advertisement and events. The other analyzes reception of the Soviet culture in the Chinese society, by looking at specific literature and art genres. Through analysis of the nation-wide Sino-Soviet Friendship Month Campaign in the end of 1952, the author hopes to shed light on the policy objectives, methods and some of the ensuing impacts of the Chinese government in its attempt to promote Sino-Soviet cultural exchanges. The Sino-Soviet Friendship Month Campaign lasted for one month. In addition to advertisement activities among the Chinese general public, the campaign also brought 300 Soviet representatives visiting Chinese cities and immediately contacting approximately 1 million Chinese people. Relevant institutes and organizations in the Chinese side highly regarded their political responsibilities in welcoming these representatives. In particular, the Chinese side mobilized large-scale public to create enthusiasm as a way to show compassion between the hosts and the guests. Together with other efforts and thorough advertisement, the Friendship Month Campaign significantly contributed to improving perception of the USSR among the Chinese general people. However, at a closer glance, we may also notice major shortcomings in the Chinese efforts. Regardless of the scale and enthusiasm, the exchanges between the Chinese people and the Soviet representatives remained only at the group level, leaving contacts at the individual level extremely limited. Needless to say, individual relation is a key factor in improving international relations. It is important that we understand this aspect in explaining Sino-Soviet relations in the 1950s.
After the end of the Cold War, with a host of newly declassified historical documents, there appeared an assumption about Sino-Soviet relations during the early Cold War period: the Sino-Soviet burden-sharing system in Asian revolutionary movements was established at the Asia-Pacific Meeting of the World Federation of Trade Unions (APM-WFTU) in Beijing in November–December 1949; Joseph V. Stalin expected the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to play a central role in the system. Given the limitations in the availability of declassified documents, the assumption was based merely on Stalin’s ideas regardless of the CCP’s reactions to it. Since recent study focuses more on Sino-Soviet relations with the Eastern bloc countries and less on those with East Asian states, the Sino-Soviet burden-sharing system remains to be clarified. This article claims that the Sino-Soviet burden-sharing system established during the early Cold War period, particularly at the APM-WFTU, was immature for three main reasons: 1) Discarding its previous “theory of the middle zone”, the CCP employed a “leaning to the Soviet side” strategy starting in 1948. Then, Beijing found it difficult to play a central role in Asian revolutionary movements without Soviet leadership or commitment. This sentiment greatly deepened when China faced three fronts (Korea, Taiwan, and Indochina) after the Korean War broke out. In fact, China did not even operate the Asia-Pacific Bureau of the WFTU (APB) until the Soviet member joined it. 2) The combination of overt and covert activities was essential for the armed struggle of the Chinese revolution which was considered a model of Asian revolutionary movements. Therefore the CCP was unwilling to operate the “formal” institution (e.g. the APB) when exporting revolution abroad. 3) Lacking a centralized network of all Asian communist parties, it was difficult for the CCP to become a center for supporting revolutionary movements in the region. Consequently, in Asia, the extent of the CCP’s commitment to revolutionary movements varied from one area to another. This immature system of Sino-Soviet burden-sharing eventually decayed during the mid-1950s when the Cold War thaw took place in East Asia as well as in Europe.
The purpose of this paper is to explore how Chinese media play its watchdog role as a monitor of official power and social problems through the case of Nanfang Zhoumo, China’s leading watchdog newspaper. The Chinese media has been, and still is, conceived by party-state authorities as central to upholding their propaganda system, and the media continues to be defined as the mouthpiece (houshe) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since the introduction of economic reform in the Chinese media in 1978, the media’s role has diversified and the media’s autonomy from the propaganda system has increased. The development of the Chinese media’s watchdog role can be described as unintended consequences of media’s autonomy from the role as a mouthpiece. In this paper, Chinese media’s watchdog role is a label used to refer to a resistance to the media’s mouthpiece role and its propaganda content. This study aims to address three questions: How does Chinese media’s watchdog role contradicts with its role as a mouthpiece? How do Chinese media as a watchdog criticize malfeasance by Party officials? What are the strategies used by watchdog journalism to resist propaganda journalism? Using a content analysis to samples selected from Nanfang Zhoumo’s headline news in front-page from 1997 to 2010, this study focuses on ‘ideological struggles’ between Chinese media’s watchdog role and mouthpiece role in media discourse. The conclusion can be summarized by the following three points. 1) Quantitative analysis shows that the number of watchdog reports exceeds that of propaganda reports. Nanfang Zhoumo prefers to play the watchdog role than the mouthpiece role. It confirms that Chinese media’s watchdog role resists its mouthpiece role. 2) Nanfang Zhoumo’s criticisms on malfeasance by Party officials have the following characteristics. The objects and the contents of the watchdog reports concentrate on Party and government officials and their injustices. When the watchdog reports target Party and government officials, the disclosure and the accusation of their injustices are in most cases done by the general public and the media. The causes of malfeasances are reported to lie in the defects of Party and government policies. 3) Nanfang Zhoumo, in order to reduce the political risk of publishing watchdog reports, offer proposals for the improvement of Party and government policies along with its reports. It also frequently quotes official documents issued by the Party and government in an effort to gain political legitimacy for publishing the reports.