The Media Version of Communism in China

A friend had posted a link to this old article from 1955 in Foreign Affairs magazine with the standard good-guys-against-the-bad-guys spin of fighting Communism. Sadly, that old piece of “history” desperately need to be corrected.

While I’m not saying that the Revolution was perfect by any means, it was clearly needed at that point in China’s history.

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United States Foreign Policy and Formosa

Chiang Kai-shek in full uniform, 1940.

FORMOSA–symbol of the struggle between freedom and Communism in the Orient — poses a test of how far United States foreign policy can combine the ideals of freedom with the flexible realism required by the harsh facts of world politics.

Our friend and long-time ally, Chiang Kai-shek, presently holds Formosa (Taiwan); the Communists hold the mainland. We are unhappy that a great nation with the cultural traditions of China should be under the control of a totalitarian régime which does not share our belief in freedom. But for the present, at least, unless we wish to risk an all-out war, our desire to see the return of freedom to continental China cannot overcome the stark fact of the possession and control of the mainland by the Communists.

You can read the rest of this piece from Foreign Affairs by clicking HERE.

Formosa – or Taiwan as it’s called today – was never really about “a symbol of the struggle between freedom and Communism in the Orient” as this old article tried to spin. It was a battle between the ultra rich monarchy and the poor in China. Keep in mind that there was virtually no middle class by the time the Revolution happened and it was all about finally sharing the wealth. Propaganda like this originated back in the 40’s when the rebels led by Mao Tse-tung began rebelling against the monarchy during World War II.

What most people still don’t realize today is that in most respects, the Revolution was a good thing for most of the citizens of China. Poverty and illiteracy was so widespread that a revolt had to happen. Today, in most parts of China, people are fed and the literacy rate is often higher than it is here in the States (sadly). And China is now taking its next steps back to capitalism.

But if you read all the crap like this piece from 1955, the “Communists” were always spun as the bad guys while Chiang Kai Shek was always held up as the good guy. How did this happen? Blame it on some of the earliest mainstream media manipulation! Madame Shek became BFF with none other than Clare Boothe Luce, wife of… Henry Luce, the most powerful man in publishing at the time. He owned TIME, Life and Fortune Magazine, the most widely read publications of the time. (Long before network television.) Madame Shek made no less than three covers of TIME magazine and the TIME-Life empire promoted Chiang Kai Shek’s “heroic” battle against those damn “commies.” And thus the Cold War with China continued until Richard Nixon finally embraced China and helped to break the two-way race with Russia by bringing a third party to the race. The media played no small role in making Taiwan look like the good guys and China as the bad guys.

Truth be told, Chiang Kai-Shek’s troops raided and looted all of the national treasures from China in their final departure and took all of it to Formosa/Taiwan. This is another sticky point that China has vowed to rectify in time. And China has a long memory – don’t forget they promised to take back Hong Kong and Macau, which they did 100 years later. The power of Chinese patience.

Of course, most of the Taiwanese have enjoyed a long period of prosperity under the protection of the US until the changes during and after Nixon’s era. And I sense that most of the current generations have no idea of the other side of the story. But with China now solidly entrenched as a world power and Taiwan’s power and relevance rapidly declining, I suspect it won’t be long before the two countries “reconcile” and unify once again.

You can also read a lurid clip from a book about Madame Chiang Kai-shek by clicking HERE.

And that’s the history lesson for the day!

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