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17 Jun 2019 11:45
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  •   Home > News > International

    Chinese television suddenly switches scheduling to anti-American films amid US-China trade war

    As the US's trade war with China escalates, Beijing decides to air a number of anti-American films across Chinese television in a suspected battle for hearts and minds.


    In recent days, China's CCTV6 — the film channel of state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) — has unexpectedly switched scheduling plans to treat viewers to a number of post-war film classics in prime-time.

    Heroic Sons and Daughters (1964), Battle on Shangganling Mountain (1954), and Surprise Attack (1960) — films all set during the Korean War, otherwise known in China as the War to Resist American Aggression and Aid Korea — have been shown at 8:15pm over the last three nights, in a change to normal programming.

    Another war classic, Guards on the Railway Line (1960) was due to screen on Monday evening.

    While it may appear that the CCTV's film buffs have had a sudden urge to re-acquaint viewers with post-war Chinese cinema, experts have pointed out the more obvious connection for the sudden change: all of the films have overtly anti-American plots amid a prolonged trade war with the United States.

    For over a year, US President Donald Trump has spoken publicly of increasing tariffs on Chinese imports into the US, with Beijing responding by doing the same to American imports.

    The trade war reached another tipping point last week as global stock markets tumbled after China retaliated against a fresh set of tariffs.

    Reading between the lines, CCTV6's efforts may be seen as a less-than-subtle attempt to galvanise nationalist fervour across the country, and the efforts appear to be coordinated.

    Hu Xijin, editor of state-owned tabloid the Global Times recently tweeted that the Battle on Shangganling Mountain should teach the Chinese that "there's no equal negotiation without fighting" while CCTV6 said that it is "using artworks like films to echo with the current era" via its Weibo account.

    The Battle on Shangganling Mountain presents a fictionalised account of the Battle of Triangle Hill (or Shangganling in Chinese), charting Chinese soldiers' valour and resistance in the face of adversity when battling American forces.

    'Wanna talk? Let's talk. Wanna fight? Let's do it.'

    "Trade war reminds Chinese of Korean War", read another headline on the Global Times, with an anonymous expert quoted in the article speaking of Chinese resilience in the face of a belligerent US.

    This was followed a Weibo post by state-owned newspaper People's Daily that showed a picture of a Chinese national flag superimposed with the slogan:

    "Wanna talk? Let's talk. Wanna fight? Let's do it. Wanna bully us? Dream on!"

    With no guarantee the current spat between the US and China will ease in the near future, it might appear that Chinese cinephiles will be presented with war-related films for the time being, too — a situation that may not appear to be a bad thing for some:

    "We should broadcast all old movies about Korean Wars," one Weibo user wrote.

    However, offscreen, the "current era" CCTV6 has suggested it is reflecting has become an increasingly sour one when looking at relations between Beijing and Washington.

    On Friday in response to reports that new trade talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mr Trump were off the table, a spokesperson for China's Ministry for Foreign Affairs told reporters that "in principle, China stands for dialogue and consultation when dealing with differences in international affairs".

    "Judging from what the US did in previous talks, there are two things we have to make clear. First, we need to follow the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Second, words must be matched with deeds."

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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