王缉思:From Paper Tiger to Real Leviathan: China’s Image of the United States Since 1949[1]

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  After the Chinese Communist Party took power in 1949, the Chinese leadership identified itself as a staunch ally of the Soviet Union in ideological, political, military, and economic terms and regarded the United States as the archenemy of China. China’s perceptions of the United States drastically changed to the negative.

  

  THE HISTORICAL CONTRAST

  

  The image of the United States was particularly dramatized by the U.S.-China confrontation during the Korean War in 1950-1953. On October 26, 1950, one day after the formal participation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the Korean, the central leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) issued an internally circulated document instructing the Party to conduct anti-American propaganda.[2]

  

  This document was probably the first authorized attempt to systematically shape the image of the United States in China. It called for a “unified understanding and position on U.S. imperialism” and a thorough, resolute political campaign to “wipe out the pro-American reactionary thoughts and the American-phobia psychology, and to foster a widespread attitude of hating, disdaining, and despising the United States.”

  

  The document described the United States in three images. First, eight historical events were listed to illustrate that the United States was the Chinese nation’s enemy. Second, three reasons were given to explain why the United States was also an enemy of the whole world: (1) was the headquarters of launching wars of international aggression, and it made profits by killing people with advanced weapons; (2) was the headquarters of opposing democracy and fostering fascism in other parts of the world; and (3) was an enemy of civilization and the headquarters of human spiritual degeneration. Finally, the document depicted the United States as a “paper tiger.” According to the propaganda line it prescribed, Americans were not only politically isolated but also militarily weakened by overstretching, and they were no longer monopolizing the atom bomb.

  

  It was not this document but the Communist leader Mao Zedong who first created the “paper-tiger” analogy in 1946 when he was interview by an American correspondent, Anna Louise Strong. Mao commented in the interview:

  

  Chiang Kai-shek and his supporters, the U.S. reactionaries, are all paper tigers too. Speaking of U.S. imperialism, people seem to feel that it is terrifically strong. Chinese reactionaries are using the ‘strength’ of the United States to frighten the Chinese people. But it will be proved that the U.S. reactionaries, like all the reactionaries in history, do not have much strength.[3]

  

  The defeat of Chiang Kai-shek proved to the Chinese communists that he and his American supporters were indeed paper tigers, This view was reinforced by the result of the Korean War, in which China claimed victory over the world’s most powerful imperialist country, one armed with nuclear weapons. During and after the Korean War, the accusation of tendencies in China of qinmei (pro-American) and kongmei (American-phobia) became a customary propaganda effort, and fanmei (anti-American) feelings were officially stimulated.

  

  In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States attempted to isolate the PRC politically and economically and contain it militarily, and it sent its troops to protect Taiwan from any Chinese effort to take the island to achieve national reunification. The image of the United States as the archenemy of China and of the whole world was consolidated. Meanwhile, China saw the U.S. paper tiger as deeply wounded by international revolutions and by the erosions of capitalism. The Vietnam War, the Cuban revolution, and a number of other setbacks in the U.S. conflict with the Soviet Union as well as in the Third World undermined its strength. The civil rights movement in the 1960s, especially the vehement struggle represented by Martin Luther King Jr., presented an image to the Chinese that the paper tiger was suffering from serious problems at home.

  

  In addition to viewing the United States as China’s primary security threat, the Chinese people were being educated to believe that the United States was the most sinister Western power and was trying to corrode the Chinese culture and national identity by spreading decadent bourgeois ideas and lifestyle. Such efforts before 1949 were exemplified by American missionary activities, the Open Door policy, and the refunding of part of the Boxer indemnity to establish Western schools and hospitals in China and bring Chinese students to the United States for training. John Foster Dulles, secretary of state in the Eisenhower administration, made himself known to every Chinese with political consciousness by making a statement in June 1957 that his government should do everything possible to contribute to the end of the Communist rule in China.[4] Therefore, the United States was also seen as a real, ferocious, but hypocritical tiger capable of threatening China’s political and cultural survival.(点击此处阅读下一页)

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