TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As disagreements between the U.S. and China escalate, recently leading to tit-for-tat consulate closures in both nations, Beijing has reportedly started filming movies and TV dramas about the Korean War, which are expected to fan the flames of anti-American nationalism.
The Korean War, which began 70 years ago and pitted the U.S. against North Korea and its Chinese allies, ended in a stalemate, but seven decades later, U.S.-China hostility is on the rise. Last month, Beijing acknowledged that relations with the U.S. are at their lowest point since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979.
Last year, after the U.S. slapped sanctions on Chinese tech giant Huawei, China Central Television (CCTV) began to air several classic Chinese war movies, including "Heroic Sons and Daughters" (英雄兒女, 1956), "Qi Xi" (奇襲, 1960), and "Battle on Shangganling Mountain" (上甘嶺, 1956), which depict the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) view of the Korean War.
As tensions between the U.S. and China continued to flare over a range of issues, from the coronavirus to the forced closure of China's consulate in Houston over espionage allegations, CCTV last month once again aired "Battle on Shangganling Mountain" during prime time.
The broadcasting of the nationalistic films, especially those related to the Korean War, is believed to be part of a concerted propaganda campaign. China's National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) in a videoconference instructed all provinces to give more airtime to TV shows and films featuring China's pandemic prevention efforts and old war movies with American villains, reported China Times.
Broadcast guidelines have even been published, with the NRTA on July 19 issuing a statement demanding that TV and radio stations nationwide, including in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, broadcast content that reflects "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era." It also called for more World War II-related content pushing anti-Japanese sentiment in order to mark the 75th anniversary of the country's "victory" over Japan under Chinese Communist Party leadership.
"The shows or dramas must remind audiences of the Chinese people's significant contributions to the defeat of fascism and promote the great spirit of resisting foreign aggression," the guidelines read.
Meanwhile, several new Korean War films depicting battles with the U.S. have started shooting, including one starring Wu Jing (吳京) and co-directed by prestigious Chinese directors Hu Guan (管虎) and Frant Gwo (郭帆) called "Kumgang Chon" (金剛川). The other Korean War-themed movies are "Last Line of Defense" (最後的防線), "Bloody Battle of Shangganling" (血戰上甘嶺), and "Snowy Battle of Chosin Reservoir" (冰雪長津湖); among the war-themed TV dramas is "Crossing the Yalu River" (跨過鴨綠江).
"Kumgang Chon" is said to have received up to RMB 400 million (US$57 million) in funding from the Chinese government. Wu, an acclaimed actor, director, and martial artist, was reportedly tapped by high-level officials to star in the film.
"Snowy Battle of Chosin Reservoir," which has a budget of RMB 520 million (US$74 million), has resumed production after a six-month hiatus due to the pandemic.
The amount of public and private sector funding for both movies is far higher than is typical of Chinese film productions, and investor enthusiasm is strong. "The sprouting of the new war-themed movies and dramas reflects the sentiment of our time," CCTV said on its official blog.