井底之蛙

5/10/2007

United States Wartime Propaganda in China

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 11:16 pm

While looking through 1945-50 US State Department documents—the same collection where I came accross Zhu De’s request for a $20 million US loan to buy off puppet soldiers-I came across over 150 pages of China Regional Directives from the Office of War Information (OWI) from early December, 1944 through mid-September 1945.

As far as I can make out these were roughly weekly sets of guidelines sent out to the various relevant agencies (these were in the possession of the US State Department) on what propaganda approach was to be taken. I don’t know much about the OWI but I think these guidelines might have been primarily for US radio broadcasts.

I was personally interested in some of these because of the many references to and warnings against Chinese collaboration. However, it struck me that this little collection would make a wonderful little primary source packet for undergraduates or even high school students studying history. There is lots of fun and interesting material in here and a lot of interesting questions that one might ask as you analyze the contents and the documents themselves.

I scanned-to-PDF the whole collection I found and uploaded it to the Frog in a Well Library where you can download the whole 37MB PDF file.

Many of the documents seem to be coming from or addressed to “Lilienthal, SX” which I think is probably Philip E. Lilienthal (1914-1984) who was the Chief of the Chinese Division for the US OWI. According to his obituary, Lilienthal also served as editor of Pacific Affairs and the Far Eastern Survey and was also important in building the Asia book selection of the University of California Press.1

The other name commonly seen in these documents is “Fairbank, WA” who I misidentified as John K. Fairbank. C. W. Hayford identifies this as Wilma Fairbank (see comments below).

Some of the guidelines suggested are quite revealing, many of them just great strategic sense while others were a mix of good sense and the bizarre. A few selections below the fold:
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  1. Irwin Scheiner “Obituary: Philip E. Lilienthal (1914-1984) The Journal of Asian Studies 43:3 (May, 1984) 616-617. []

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