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The establishment of a strong military force was extremely important for both the Soviet Union and communist China. The Soviets had three important reasons to development military. The first reason was that Stalin feared that the western capitalist nations, particularly Germany would invade or attack Soviet. The Soviet Union supported communist political parties in many European countries (e.g., German, Britain, France) in the early 1920s..However, by the late 1930s, all had been wiped out.
For example, the communist party in Germany was exterminated by the Nazis and the communist party in Italy was eliminated by the Facists. Even Britain imprisoned most of the communist leaders. Therefore, Stalin had good reasons to be suspicious of Western countries
Stalin also wanted control over of some European countries that bordered on the Soviet Union, such as Poland. This was intended to isolate the Soviet Union from the western counties (e.g., German) by providing a buffer zone. Later Stalin needed a strong military force because of the uncertainty of the Cold War. Once Soviet started to complete with America, military power become one of the elements of the completion (History Learning Site, pres. 1-6).
Communist China focused on developing a military for similar reasons. They always feared attacks from western capitalists countries, particularly the Nationalist government of Taiwan, supported by the United States of America (USA), This notion was particularly strong before 1972 and the first visit of an American President (Richard Milhous Nixon). As Mao said:
“According to Marxist theory of the state the army is the chief component of state power. Whoever wants to seize and retain state power must have a strong army…The gun of the Russian Communist Party created socialism. We shall create a democratic republic” (Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tuno, 63).
From his quotation, it is clear that the use military force to maintain communist power is accepted and encouraged For example, in 1950, Communist China joined Korean War on the side of North Korea. This may have reflected a need, like that of the Soviet Union, to create a buffer zone. It may be that China feared American control of North Korea. From the propaganda of the time, the communist slogan was “arming North Korea, to protect home, and defend country”, it is clear that the goal was self-preservation. In addition, this was presented as a war between communist and capitalism, and that communism must win.
In fact, it was announced in China, that the Chinese and North Koreans had achieved final victory (Korea War, pres. 1-3) – a blatant lie. The military propagandas can be classified into four types.
In type one individual soldiers were used to represent a strong military force. Unlike the Soviet Union, communist China always lacked the advanced weapons (e.g., tanks, aircraft, ship) of the western powers, or even those of the Soviet Union. Hence, communist propaganda tended to use soldiers to show the military power. Usually these soldiers were presented with an angry face, which lead to the perception of loyalty and readiness to fight and die for the country.
At this time, the Soviet propaganda tended to present soldiers who were less angry, and even smiling on occasion. (see figure 19), at the same time, it also in a perception of loyalty. This may reflect the fact that Soviet soldiers were very confident about their capabilities (they had just won WW2) and their military technology (advanced military technology)
It is interesting that there were a few Chinese posted t that depicted advanced military technology. The soldiers in these posters were significantly less angry, and seemed much more confident This are more similar to Soviet propaganda. (see Figure 20).
The militia was another important force for both the Soviet Union and China. Both governments encouraged all people to be a part of the militia, including women, and children. From these four posters, one can see that such propaganda had a relatively relaxed and gentle design. Nonetheless, the style for the second two is different. Both present the militia in a cultural context, perhaps to indicate that the people should fear joining the militia.
The third type presents the importance of communist army to foreigners. To protect their power, both the Soviet Union and China wanted to have influence in other countries. Therefore, propaganda was designed to show the misery of life in these other countries, to generate sympathy for the people in these countries, and to generate nagger towards the enemies of these countries.
Usually, this propaganda presented women and children living are under dehumanizing conditions. Moreover, the propaganda presented the military might of the communist countries as the savior of these people. For instance, the Soviet Union wanted to have control over Caucasus and the Ukraine. Hence, propaganda was designed to show the miserable lives of Ukarinian people .
When Communist China joined Korean War; propaganda was designed to show the miserable lives of the North Koreans. Taiwan was founded at the end of the Chinese civil war by the defeated Nationalist party. The communist party designed propaganda that showed the dehumanized lives of Taiwanese, and created the strong sense that the communist party must liberate Taiwan (a problem today).
A major difference between Soviet and Chinese propaganda was the depiction of heroism and the interaction between armies and people. Unlike the Soviet Union, the Chinese propaganda presented soldiers having contact and interaction that was more than military training, with people. For example, Mao says:
“The Chinese Red Army is an armed body for carrying out the political tasks of the revolution. Especially at present, the Red Army should certainly not confine itself to fighting; besides fighting to destroy the enemy’s military strength, it should shoulder such important tasks as doing propaganda among the masses, organizing the masses, arming them, helping them to establish revolutionary political power and setting up Party organizations…”
Therefore, there are Chinese propagandas, which represent the great interaction between armies and people. Arming people was a common topic was designed in propagandas. The Chinese government wanted to make kindness a perception of the army, which would help lead people to trust the army, and indeed, to trust communist.
The Chinese government encouraged individual heroism. Indeed, they encouraged individuals to sacrifice themselves to for protect the community (and communism) whenever it was necessary. Those hero stories have always been presented to the people, and the government encourages people learn from heroes.
Usually, the party has encouraged two types of heroes: battle heroes, and civilian heroes (Chen, 82-83). For example, battle heroes are typified by Jiguang Huang, a Chinese soldier in Korean War, who sacrificed himself by using his body to block an America machine-gun dugout. The Soviet government also encouraged self-sacrifice. However, unlike the Chinese government the hero was more likely to be an imaginary creation. Still, note that the Chinese poster copies the style of the Soviet poster.
The most famous civilian hero from the 1960s is Feng Le, who exhibited strong party loyalty, and engaged in a lot of altruistic work. He died in an accident, and Mao himself exclaimed “Emulate Comrade Lei Feng”. Such heroes have had a strong impact of young people in communist China. For example, in her recollections of the 1960s, Bai said that she dreamed of being a hero like Huang, Jiguang, (Chen, p. 83-90). Bai did not have chance to sacrifice herself, but there were many others did.
This poster presents two people: Long, Junjue (a communist man) and Xiang, Xiuli who were immortalized as civilian heroes of China. Long sacrificed himself at a young age to protect the public property in fire. Xiang, Xiuli eventually became a communist member after her honor death.
Although the use of heroes for government-sponsored propaganda is not unusual, particularly in times of war, China is a bit atypical in the amount of use and the focus on real individuals.
To be countined.