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The Japanese attack at the Marco Polo Bridge (Lugouqiao) about ten miles west of Beijing on 7 July 1937, which set off full-scale war between China and Japan (the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945; known in China as "The War of Resistance Against Japan" [Kang-Ri zhanzheng]), probably did not surprise many Chinese. After all, the Japanese had been intensifying their aggression in northern China since the Twenty-one Demands of 1915, and in 1931 had seized Manchuria. It was only a matter of time, many believed, before this intermittent, undeclared war between the two countries would erupt into open combat. Yet the idea that China and Japan were actually at war was unsettling and frightening. To the Chinese, war meant that China's sovereignty was being openly and unjustly trampled; it meant that the nation had to confront an enemy whose ambitions knew no bounds and whose superior war machine could bring ruin and suffering to the Chinese people. When the battle shifted to Shanghai in August 1937, it became clear that the conflict would not be easily or quickly resolved. A mixture of shock and anger gripped the entire nation.

The eruption of full-scale war with Japan dealt a devastating blow to the Nationalist (Guomindang; GMD) government's efforts to recentralize its authority and revive the economy.[1] It also ended Jiang Jieshi's (Chiang Kai-shek, 1887–1975) chance of crushing the Communist forces, who were isolated in the barren and sparsely populated Shaanxi province with Yan'an as their capital. The war uprooted the Nationalists from their traditional power base in the urban and industrial centers of east China, especially along the lower Yangzi River, and forced them to move to the interior. At the same time, it afforded an


ideal opportunity for the Communists to expand their influence in north China and so become a true contender for national power by the end of the war.

For many Chinese resisters, the clash with Japan turned out to be a unifying force and an ennobling experience. The Marco Polo Bridge Incident released a passionate outpouring of patriotic enthusiasm, temporarily uniting dissenting voices and disparate interest groups. The deafening call for "national salvation" was heard everywhere. The idea of resistance against Japanese aggression, a much-talked-about notion before the war, now crystallized into something tangible and emotional. Like the Great Wall, the Marco Polo Bridge became a compelling symbol of China's unity and rapidly took its place in resistance lore. Immediately after the incident, for example, a stream of spoken dramas appeared bearing the name of the famous bridge, including the popular three-act play Defend the Marco Polo Bridge (Baowei Lugouqiao), a joint product of sixteen dramatists speaking out in solidarity against the invaders.[2]

Ironically, for some frustrated intellectuals the war could not have come at a better time. While granting that armed conflict was brutal and inhuman, they argued that it nevertheless raised hopes of solving China's myriad problems. They looked at war as an antidote to malaise and chaos, and as an opportunity to break the shackles of tradition and offer new vistas for China. To them, the past two decades had been a time of despair and uncertainty. The euphoria kindled in the early Republican years had long since evaporated. After years of continued Japanese threat and dreams of political reform repeatedly dashed, a mixture of cynicism and pessimism overwhelmed the youth of the post-May Fourth generation.[3] Despite some progress made toward economic growth and political integration by the Nationalist government on the eve of the war,[4] the country was still largely fragmented. Regional militarists remained a serious threat to the government, and the armed conflict between the Nationalists and the Communists continued unabated. Political instability bred fear and fueled great discontent in society.

"Perhaps a nation long plagued by deeply divided regional interests will finally come together?" were the hopeful words of the editors of the literary journal Light (Guangming) in July 1937.[5] With the Japanese attack on the Marco Polo Bridge, all kinds of differences, both political and intellectual, seemed to disappear overnight. China suddenly found itself united. War, like it or not, commanded everyone's attention and emotions. It pulled the nation together, forcing


people to endure the traumatic experience collectively. Could the war be the beginning of national regeneration? If nothing else, some thought that war could furnish a much-needed sense of direction and purpose to a country so long divided and discouraged. "Is war so dreadful? Not at all! Our four hundred million people are eagerly looking forward to its arrival. We welcome it because this is the time that we can liberate ourselves [from oppression]," proclaimed the poet Zang Kejia (1905-).[6]

But what was to be done? The poet Mu Mutian (1900–1971) sounded a battle cry: "We must use war to answer war."[7] It was clear from the beginning that the determination and resources required to resist and ultimately defeat the invader lay no longer simply in the soldier's courage at the front, but in the will of the people to rally behind the government. A fragmented country could make the enemy's task of occupation and exploitation of China a relatively simple matter. To Chinese resisters, the people's consciousness about the war and the home front morale became as important as the outcome of campaigns on the battlefield in determining the future. "To save China we must develop the mass movement," stated one writer, summing up this attitude succinctly.[8]

To rally people together and convey the exigencies of the hard times successfully, Chinese resisters knew they had to plan carefully, establish a nationwide network of communication, and create new channels for the dissemination of information. In brief, their aim was to activate an unprecedented, ambitious propaganda campaign aimed at mobilizing every citizen and utilizing every resource in the country. But given China's vast size, the enormous regional differences, and the lack of modern means of transportation, deciding even where to begin did not prove easy. Resistance intellectuals turned increasingly toward a few urban popular culture forms—spoken dramas, cartoons, and newspapers—for help, transforming them into popularizing media.

This book addresses the important but often ignored issue of the rise and spread of urban popular culture during the War of Resistance, particularly how this culture was politicized and popularized by Chinese resisters to wage a concerted battle against the invading Japanese. The war was a critical period in the spread of popular culture from urban enclaves, especially cities like Shanghai, to the vast rural hinterland, a move that turned the nation's attention increasingly toward the countryside. The resisters' use of highly politicized spoken drama symbols, patriotic cartoon images, and combative newspaper languages in communication with the populace changed the fundamental


nature and discourse of wartime popular culture. During the war, while the Nationalists used popular culture largely as a patriotic tool, the Communists refashioned it into a new "people's culture." Capitalizing on the shift of awareness to the countryside, the Communists imbued popular culture with a rural, socialist content and portrayed the border regions under their control as the future of China. In the end it was the Communists, not the Nationalists, who succeeded in utilizing the developments in the popular culture of the GMD areas for their own political ends, a fact that contributed to their victory in the civil war (1945–1949).

The twists and turns in the course of the popular culture campaign in wartime China, especially its development in the Communist-held border regions, must be examined within the larger historical context of the war with Japan. The campaign can be divided into two stages. An early period of high morale and intense activity from 1937 to 1939 saw patriotic Chinese intellectuals and artists roaming the villages and towns of the interior provinces to spread the gospel of resistance, each group using a different tool to reach the rural masses. In the case of dramatists, for example, street plays became the staple in their propaganda arsenal. But as the fighting settled into a stalemate in 1939 and the early enthusiasm waned, Chinese dramatists, now physically exhausted and mentally drained, gravitated back to the cities. The trend now was toward more historical plays and traditional dramas, aimed once again at urban audiences. This was a period of digging in and waiting, but also a time of growing discontent among intellectuals with the GMD government's ineptitude, corruption, and increasing censorship.

The Japanese invasion in July 1937 divided China essentially into three zones: the Japanese-occupied territories, the Guomindang-controlled areas, and the Communist-held regions. The first and the most bitter phase of the war lasted sixteen months, until the fall of Wuhan (the triple cities of Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang) and Guangzhou in October 1938. By late 1938 the Japanese, with superior air power and armored troops, controlled the main coastal cities and major railway lines. The Japanese advance, however, was met with stiff resistance from the Chinese. During the ninety-day defense of Shanghai (August–November 1937), Jiang Jieshi threw his best, German-trained divisions into service, battling the Japanese to a standstill. Even so, the superior military might of Japan finally prevailed. The battle of Shanghai, moreover, proved to be extremely costly for the Nationalists: as many as 250,000 Chinese troops—the nucleus of


Jiang Jieshi's finest forces—were killed or wounded, and the road to the capital, Nanjing, was left wide open. When the city fell in late December 1937, the invaders unleashed the notorious "Rape of Nanjing"—wanton destruction, rape, robbery, and random killing, leaving over 200,000 dead and the city in ruins.[9]

The carnage in Nanjing only strengthened the Chinese will to resist. Despite being outgunned and ill trained, some Chinese troops, with great determination and under capable leadership, occasionally managed to mount a successful fight. In April 1938, for example, at the town of Taierzhuang in southern Shandong, the forces of Nationalist General Li Zongren (1891–1969) trapped and inflicted heavy casualties on Japanese troops who were attempting to link with other divisions in north and central China for the forthcoming campaign against Wuhan. For the Chinese, the Battle of Taierzhuang had great symbolic meaning, in that it shattered the myth of Japanese invincibility. This first major Chinese victory provided a glimmer of hope in difficult times and soon figured prominently in the resistance culture: it quickly established itself as one of the most popular topics in wartime spoken dramas and political cartoons. But the Taierzhuang triumph was short-lived; in May, the Japanese took the town and the nearby key railway junction of Xuzhou. Wuhan fell in October.

Following a new scorched earth strategy—in essence "trading space for time" in the hope of frustrating Japanese offensive operations in the vast interior—the GMD government retreated to Hankou and then to Chongqing, a city a thousand miles upriver in Sichuan that was to remain China's wartime capital until the end of the war in 1945.[10] The government's withdrawal to the interior also quickened the vast migration of urban Chinese (especially intellectuals), industrial enterprises, and universities from Japanese-occupied territories to the hinterland.

The fall of Wuhan and Guangzhou in October 1938 ended the first phase of the war. The fighting presently settled into a long and costly stalemate. Unable to secure final victory and fearful of being seriously overextended, the Japanese turned to consolidate their hold over eastern and northern China through various puppet regimes, among them Wang Jingwei's (1883–1944) new "National Government" in Nanjing. They also cut off the GMD's supply lines in southern China and waged a relentless air war against the interior cities, including Kunming and Guilin. Chongqing, though safe from land attack, was flattened by Japanese bombers.

China fought very much alone until December 1941, when the


United States entered the war after the Pearl Harbor attack. Still, the Japanese offensive did not cripple the nation's will to resist. On the contrary, it created an unprecedented wave of patriotism and an uncommon spirit of national unity in the early war years. Nowhere was this more evident than in the dedicated commitment of Chinese intellectuals and artists to the resistance cause and in the second united front between the Nationalists and the Communists.

Initiated by the literati, a campaign for the resistance was quickly taking shape based on popular culture. Traveling drama and cartoon propaganda troupes were formed and dispatched to interior China. The campaign reached a crescendo in March 1938 when the All-China Resistance Association of Writers and Artists (Zhonghua quanguo wenyijie kangdi xiehui; ACRAWA) was established in Hankou to map out a resistance plan. The association's slogan, "Literature must go to the countryside! Literature must join the army!" became a call to arms. What emerged was a nationwide popular culture crusade to raise public consciousness about the conflict.

On the political front, shortly after the war broke out, in September 1937, the Nationalists and the Communists entered into their second alliance, temporarily submerging their enmity in the face of an invasion. The Red Army was reorganized as the Eighth Route Army, and the Communist forces south of the Yangzi River were turned into a second fighting force named the New Fourth Army. Mao Zedong (1893–1976) and other Communist leaders were elected to serve on the newly created People's Political Council. Leading Communist intellectuals such as Guo Moruo (1892–1978) were recruited into the Political Department in the Military Affairs Commission (responsible for coordinating the war effort), in charge of crucial propaganda work.

This united front, however, like the first one of 1923–1927, was marked by mutual suspicion and friction. Mao insisted that the Communists should remain independent and autonomous, in sharp contrast to his chief rival, Moscow-influenced Wang Ming (Chen Shaoyu, 1904–1974), whose position was "Everything through the united front." In 1939 armed clashes erupted as the Nationalists attempted to restrict the activities of the Communists. After the New Fourth Army Incident of January 1941, in which the Nationalist forces almost wiped out the Communist troops in southern Anhui, the second united front ceased to exist except as a scrap of paper.

The Sino-Japanese conflict exhausted the Nationalists. The later war years saw the magnification of some of the major weaknesses in the government: massive corruption, harsh censorship, and political


repression, the inability to control a vicious inflationary spiral, and Jiang Jieshi's increasingly centralized, authoritarian rule together with his distrust of the mass movement all combined to undermine the government's mandate to rule. As the earlier exhilaration and high morale continued to erode, intellectuals and artists became ever more critical of the government. All the while, by contrast, the Communists were aggressively expanding their territorial control, both behind Japanese lines and in GMD areas throughout north and east-central China. By the end of the war they had become a formidable military and political force. Their ingenious use of popular culture to foster an image of a new China would soon contribute to their ultimate seizure of power.

In this study the term popular culture refers to a series of modern urban culture forms—spoken dramas, cartoons, and newspapers—that gained prominence and popularity in China in the early decades of this century and had a great impact during the war. That is, the term does not mean the customs, beliefs, and rituals of a particular group of people such as peasants or artisans; rather, it designates certain kinds of literature or art that are widely diffused and generally accepted by the people in a particular social setting at a particular period of time.[11] While the former type of study focuses on a community, the latter begins with a cultural artifact. The two, however, are complementary and to a certain extent overlap; in the words of Natalie Davis, they "have the same ultimate goals: the careful explication of values, beliefs, and customs and their relation to social milieu," and they are both needed for "the study of mentalités. "[12] This "literary-cultural" approach allows us to examine how a specific cultural artifact—such as a cartoon—can cross cultural lines and transcend group affiliations. It presents us with a sharper societal dynamic by asking how the artifact in question was created. Who created it? For what purpose? How was it communicated? Who was the intended audience? In brief, the literary-cultural approach establishes the cultural artifact within a certain context and tells us how it moves and interacts in different milieus.

Urban popular culture forms were ideal as media of communication. Popular because they were "favorite, acceptable, pleasing," and "intended for or suited to ordinary people,"[13] they became the most potent tools in shaping the minds and sentiments of the common people during the War of Resistance. Yet the increased use of urban popular culture forms in the early decades of this century, like the growing interest in folk culture, such as folk songs and legends, among young


Chinese folklorists in the same period, was not without controversy. Many conservative intellectuals, in fact, viewed it with alarm as a sign of the cultural deterioration. Although the distinction between "high" culture—such as poetry, Confucian classics, philosophical treatises—and "low" culture—such as regional dramas and popular religions—remained nebulous in Chinese tradition,[14] the traditional elites' attitude toward folk and popular culture tended to be condescending. The elites viewed folk culture genres as unsophisticated and unworthy of study because of their predominantly rural basis, vulgar content, and oral mode of transmission.[15] In their eyes, moreover, urban popular culture forms produced standardized and inferior products—the results of commercialization and industrialization; to them, "popular" implied faceless anonymity and the loss of a distinct identity. Culture, once the embodiment of noble ideals and great artistic traditions, had degenerated into a shoddy commodity. Traditional painters, for instance, saw the cartoon as a mediocre art form catering merely to mass consumption (see chapter 3). This negative view resonated with that of such Western conservatives as Matthew Arnold and José Ortega y Gasset, who viewed with alarm the rapid material changes in modern society, including the increasing popularization of art.[16]

The eruption of the war with Japan, however, suddenly made these urban culture forms important. They were, after all, convenient tools for espousing and conveying patriotic messages to the general public. Poignant in imagery (such as cartoons), easy to produce and disseminate to a large and varied audience (such as newspapers and tabloids), and charged with emotion (such as patriotic plays), they came to be used primarily for their political, not literary, character. Indeed, the war changed the very nature of Chinese popular culture. No longer a strictly urban product with a heavy dose of commercialism, popular culture was quickly refashioned into a propaganda medium aimed primarily at the rural audience. The politicization of popular culture, to be sure, did not begin with the war. When Japanese militarists intensified their aggression in China after the Manchurian (Mukden) Incident of September 1931, a number of artistic devices were remolded by intellectuals into tools of defense against outside intrusion. The street play Lay Down Your Whip (Fangxia nide bianzi) was a case in point (see chapter 2). Still, the organized, nationwide resistance movement did not commence until after the war broke out in the summer of 1937; and Lay Down Your Whip did not become one of the most influential anti-imperialist, anti-Japanese propaganda plays until the early years of the war.


For wartime Chinese intellectuals, propaganda was undoubtedly an important weapon in the resistance arsenal. Because of its pejorative connotations, however, the importance of propaganda has often been ignored. Propaganda is in fact not an aberration but a basic ingredient of the political process; contrary to the public perception, moreover, it does not consist only of lies and falsehood. As David Welch puts it, "It operates with many different kinds of truth—from the outright lie, the half truth, to the truth out of context."[17] Even the most mendacious propaganda effort must entertain some truths to be effective. It must appeal to human reasoning, not just to emotional instincts. Thus Chinese wartime propaganda was an act of persuasion, combining feelings and facts. Moreover, the Chinese word xuanchuan (propaganda), meaning to inform and to propagate, carries a more positive connotation than its English counterpart. Granted that it is still a form of advocacy and conveys a particular point of view, xuanchuan lacks the negative implication of manipulation. It is in this more positive sense that the term propaganda is used throughout the book.

Spoken dramas were one of the first urban culture forms to which the resisters turned for patriotic cause. The formation of traveling dramatic troupes immediately after the war broke out demonstrated both the urgent need to spread information to the rural interior and the desire to create a new channel for communicating with the people. Wartime spoken dramas, especially street plays, attempted to engage a mass audience in a novel face-to-face dialogue. In their ambitious, and sometimes frustrating, attempt to galvanize public support for the war cause and to spur national consciousness, Chinese dramatists also systematically cultivated patriotic symbols. Like Joan of Arc, who stands for French patriotism, such female symbols as Hua Mulan were revived in Chinese spoken dramas to inspire unity and devotion to the nation at a critical time. Combative and appealing, these symbols provided spiritual strength and a political rallying point. To nourish a feeling of solidarity, Chinese dramatists also frequently invoked the past, recalling the glory of China's resistance against outsiders. Tradition brought familiarity and, more important, a sense of identity and cohesiveness.

The message of unity was simultaneously delivered through the visual arts, notably political cartoons. As the resisters found out, the cartoon was a uniquely efficient means for presenting ideas in spontaneous and often biting images. Unlike symbols, which convey ideas and judgments through suggestion or association and often carry multiple meanings,[18] images in general are imitations or representations


of objects or people; they delineate outer reality more faithfully, in a graphic form, portraying phenomena as they can be directly perceived.[19] Because cartoons are easily reproducible, they proved a convenient and powerful propaganda tool. Relying on directness, common imagery, and sometimes deliberate vulgarity to make a point, as well as being readily comprehended and frequently entertaining, cartoons could cut to the heart of things with a power and immediacy unparalleled among other media. Good cartoons, as the resisters found out, must tell their story simply, at a glance. Wartime cartoonists thus juxtaposed unambiguous images of the heroism of Chinese soldiers and the brutality of Japanese troops to convey a battle between right and wrong, good and evil. The grisly images of war were designed to arouse public anger against the Japanese and to draw sympathy for the suffering innocents at home.

Among the print media, newspapers occupied a central place in wartime popular culture. With them, too, a transformation took place. As coastal urban centers fell into the hands of the advancing Japanese, newspapers were forced to relocate to interior cities and towns, and journalists took refuge with them. This decentralization of the press was accompanied by a change of style in reporting and writing. Not only did newspapers appear in different forms, such as tabloids, and in many locations in the hinterland to meet the growing public demand for basic war information, but their language also became more direct and accessible. Writing with emotion and an unabashed commitment to the national cause, Chinese journalists were as much interested in what they reported as in how they reported. They registered personal observations, used down-to-earth language, and became more responsive to the reader. Nevertheless, the personal style of wartime newspaper writing ran into conflict with the much talked about prewar goal of objectivity in reporting. In the end, patriotism—the appeal to emotions—prevailed over a professional ideal.

Newspaper reportage was but one of many forms of wartime political rhetoric. Indeed, despite the call for unity, political rhetoric was not used in a uniform manner during the war. It changed in function over time and was used by different people for different purposes. While nonpartisan intellectuals such as Lao She filled political language with emotion, Chinese Communists turned it into an instrument of political suasion and class struggle. Lao She, for example, used slogans like "Resisting until the end" (kang dao di) to signal a kind of Sisyphean determination to defend the nation at whatever cost; the Communists, for their part, invented terms such as "turning over"


(fanshen) or "liberation" (jiefang) to announce the arrival of a new social order and to create a feeling of camaraderie among people of the lower orders. But descriptions such as fanshen and jiefang were no mere rhetorical exercise; they constituted powerful political calls for change in the social system and, ultimately, an attack on the Nationalists.

This book, however, does not focus solely on urban culture forms. It also explores a variety of predominantly rural folk art genres, largely oral in transmission and anonymous in composition—folk songs, drum singing, storytelling, and so on—that were not replaced by urban popular culture forms as the latter were introduced in earnest by the resisters to the villages. Instead, the two groups were used collectively and often interchangeably by the resisters for propaganda purposes. The distinction between the two thus became ambiguous, in practice if not in theory. And the Communists turned out to be the great promoters and ingenious practitioners of this new trend.

In studying Chinese wartime popular culture, especially patriotic symbols, I found Clifford Geertz's idea of culture as a collectively held system of symbols and meanings helpful. Geertz sees culture as a discourse, an "ensemble of texts," rather than a superorganic entity.[20] For him, every form of human behavior involves symbolic actions that can be subjected to semiotic analysis and decoded. Similarly, patriotic symbols of resistance and the emotionally charged political language created by Chinese intellectuals during the war were meant to nourish a "symbolic universe of patriotism" among the populace, to foster a dialogue with the audience and convince them that victory would prevail in the end.

The Geertzian conception of culture as symbolic behavior allows historians to study the past through nonliterary sources and to examine power relations as mirrored by informal mechanisms. Cultural practices can be politicized without elaborate, systematic governmental intervention; indeed, rituals and village operas can wield as much, if not more, influence on the community as governmental declarations or laws.[21] Working through mostly nongovernmental channels and nonverbal means, Chinese resisters brought the ideas of unity, courage, and sacrifice directly to the grass roots through peripatetic village propaganda teams, street plays, posters, and drum singing rather than by means of formal, institutional arrangements. Wartime culture was an accumulation of images and symbols through which intellectuals communicated among themselves and with the public. Such symbols constituted a collective form of experience that can be "decoded" only


within the "world of significance" created by the conflict with the Japanese. It is in this broad sense that "culture" in the Geertzian definition is used in this study.[22]

The transformation and politicization of wartime popular culture centers on resistance politics. Here, "politics" is not meant in the narrow sense of the structure of government or parties; rather, it is interpreted as "political culture"—that is, ideas, attitudes, and feelings about the unfolding political and military crisis. It is about, in Victor Turner's words, "idealism, altruism, patriotism."[23] Political culture focuses on the dynamics of politics, its forms, its development, its public dimensions, and its impact on society. It links politics to the full range of human activities.[24] It suggests ways to study the influence of cultural artifacts and the symbolic expression of this influence in a non-institutional way. In brief, political culture is a continuous dialogue between politics and reality, between various cultural forms and their intended audiences.

Indeed, the issues of audience and communication lie at the core of wartime discourse. Although this book examines the thoughts of a group of key resistance intellectuals—including dramatists Ouyang Yuqian and Tian Han, cartoonists Feng Zikai and Ye Qianyu, journalists Fan Changjiang and Cheng Shewo, writers Lao She and Lao Xiang—and their collective, conscious effort to use popular culture as a tool to counter the Japanese military onslaught, it is not really a book about intellectuals. It is a cultural study.[25] It looks at intellectuals as key agents in the transformation of popular culture and their role in reaching out to the people during the war.

Because spoken dramas, cartoons, and newspapers were intended for public consumption, they inevitably invited the participation of their audience, on whose approval their survival and effectiveness ultimately rested. Thus, although they were created not by the people but for the people, it would be erroneous to regard them as a mere imposition of elite values from above. In fact, a dynamic interaction was taking place between the intelligentsia and the people. Chinese resisters were, as Herbert Gans wrote with regard to America's mass media, "often engaged in a guessing game, trying to figure out what people want[ed], or rather, what they [would] accept."[26] What ordinary people thought and felt, and to what extent they accepted the new patriotic materials, were therefore key factors in the resistance campaign. Intellectuals' concern to bring their messages to the populace also brought them closer to the people, emotionally if not intellectually. Yet the art of persuasion was elusive and difficult to master. Writing in


a language comprehensible to the largely illiterate general public proved a daunting and often frustrating assignment for Chinese intellectuals and artists.

This book draws on the ideas of art, literature, and journalism to provide as balanced and comprehensive a picture of the war as possible, within the constraints of the overall subject—that is, popular propaganda culture. It must be pointed out, however, that the focus on spoken dramas, cartoons, and newspapers leaves out two important genres of popular culture: songs and films. A brief explanation is in order. The sheer abundance of songs, coupled with my inadequate grasp of musical theory, makes it doubly difficult for me to treat this important subject thoroughly and convincingly. The growth and influence of wartime songs must therefore await a more capable chronicler. The history of wartime films is a different story. My initial plan was to include a chapter on cinema, but the task proved impossible owing to a scarcity of wartime films and the difficulties of obtaining those that do exist.[27] The eruption of the war brought most of the booming Shanghai film industry to an abrupt halt in 1937, and an acute shortage of film stock allowed few films (with the notable exception of government propaganda newsreels) to be made during the war. Many filmmakers, including Zhao Dan and Wang Ying, joined the spoken drama propaganda troupes that toured the interior. Systematic filmmaking did not resume until after the end of the Sino-Japanese War and the return of filmmakers to Shanghai. Thus, important productions such as The Spring River Flows East (Yijiang chunshui xiang dong liu, 1947 and 1948, in two parts) were made only in the wake of the war.[28]

This book deals largely with the Guomindang-controlled areas and the Communist-held border regions. It discusses little of the Japanese-occupied territories (except occupied Shanghai). Of course, resistance activities were not absent in the Japanese-controlled areas. The political and cultural issues involved, however, were so different that a separate study would be required to do justice to those complex regions. To be sure, the Guomindang-controlled territories and the Communist base areas differed with respect to the resistance campaign as well. While the cultural battle in the Guomindang-controlled hinterland was largely unsystematic and uncoordinated because of the factional infighting and often confusing policies of the government, in the Communist areas it was carefully orchestrated. Indeed, despite the fact that policies enacted at Yan'an, the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), were received differently in individual base


areas, a general border-region culture, as chapter 6 argues, can still be discerned.[29] Such a culture was actively promoted by the Communists as the future of China.

The War of Resistance reshaped Chinese political culture. It created more than a military crisis: it precipitated a period of great uncertainty when fundamental traditional values about art and literature were questioned, intellectuals' roles were redefined, the social order was restructured, and popular culture took on new tasks and meanings. The widespread influence of popular culture in wartime China changed the attitudes of many conservative intellectuals toward this formerly ignored field and established popular culture as a valuable source for understanding popular behavior. More important, it caused the rapid fading of the urban, elitist character of Chinese culture and shifted the nation's attention to the countryside. This "ruralization" of Chinese culture was crucial to the success of the Communists following the war, for it helped to make their call for a rural revolution appealing and convincing. During the eight-year War of Resistance the Communists, not the Nationalists, emerged as the spokesmen of the rural hinterland—the bastion of China's resistance as well as its future.


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