The Cold War was as much a bipolarized international order dominated by the U.S.-Soviet conflicts as a struggle between two contrasting ideologies and social systems (Westad 2017). In the past two decades, with unprecedented access to archives, new generations of scholars have produced a rich array of scholarship that bring forth important East and Southeast Asian perspectives to the global conflicts. They focus largely on the diplomatic or military history and state-level power politics. My chapter supplements these works by bringing attention to the dynamic role of popular culture in Asia’s Cold War. It explores the covert political mobilization and propaganda warfare of Hong Kong Mandarin cinema from around 1946 to 1960, a period characterized by the struggles of the United States and its ally—Nationalist Taiwan—to contain the expanding cultural influences of Chinese Communism in the region. Hong Kong was an imperial outpost on the South China coast that the British recolonized immediately following the end of WWII. The victory of Mao’s revolution greatly changed the course of Hong Kong’s history. Dubbed by the press as the “Berlin of the East” or “Tangier of Asia,” Hong Kong had become China’s “window” to the West and the Free World’s “watchtower” to counter Chinese Communism. It was also a major battleground of the unfinished civil war between the Communist and the Nationalist regimes. This intermingling of superpower rivalry with cross–Taiwan Strait conflicts made the colony one of the world’s capitals of rumor-mongering, secret services, and covert propaganda. Hence, although peripheral to global geopolitics, the colony was nevertheless a central battlefield of Asia’s cultural Cold War.
Fu, P. (2019). Entertainment and Propaganda: Hong Kong Cinema and Asia’s Cold War. In P. Fu, & M-F. Yip (Eds.), The Cold War and Asian Cinemas (pp. 238-262). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429425202-13