University of Mississippi
Modern Chinese History
Statement: 'New China Daily: Social Change and the Class Project in Wartime Nationalist China' is the first study of the Chinese Communist press and its relationship to social change and labor during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and postwar labor movement. Broadening our perspective beyond a history of military conflict, political and institutional change, I argue that the Anti-Japanese War induced social change and working-class formation in Nationalist China’s cities, that was both reflected and facilitated by the New China Daily (Xinhua ribao). Founded as part of the Second United Front, the political alliance between the Nationalists and Communists, New China Daily took on important symbolic and organizational functions. Besides disseminating the Communist party line and reporting on both international and domestic news, the paper provided literate workers with a forum in which to assess factory social relations and to express their grievances. The participatory form of journalism facilitated the growth of class consciousness and new forms of political identity for both men, women and youth. New China Daily also functioned as an organizational tool in the post-war labor movement. Although shut down by 1947, the paper’s ability to galvanize workers’ public opinion put pressure on state and privately owned industries to develop their social welfare programs, thus setting up the framework for the post-1949 Communist work-unit institution. During the 1950s, the Xinhua News Agency became the official press agency for the People’s Republic of China and remains to this day the largest and most influential media organization in the country. This history of the New China Daily and its rapport with its working-class, women and youth readership concludes with observations on how the wartime experience served as a testing ground for patterns of organizational and ideological development that would be applied nation-wide after 1949.
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