The movie channel of China’s state broadcaster China Central Television has reportedly pulled from its schedules not only all Hollywood productions but also domestic films with scenes shot in the US.
Observers see the move as CCTV falling in line with other state media after Beijing’s ties with Washington soured further after the latest impasse in bilateral trade talks and Donald Trump’s embargo order targeting Huawei.
In another development, the movie channel CCTV-6 is now filling prime evening slots with decades-old war-themed films. These include movies about the 1950-53 Korean War, during which Mao Zedong’s Red Army, under the name of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army, fought shoulder to shoulder with their North Korean comrades-in-arms to thwart the advance of the US forces from the South.
One of the films being aired is Battle of Shangganling Mountain, a 1956 production depicting the Battle of Triangle Hill near what is today the Military Demarcation Line, which historians recall as being especially hard-fought.
The movie portrays the battle as a Chinese victory over an American invasion. It depicts how Chinese troops, short of food and water, still managed to hold their ground for 24 straight days until their relief arrived, against all the odds of the absolute superiority of American ground artillery and air power.
The battle of Shangganling has become a symbol of Chinese selfless patriotic sacrifice and heroism as well as propaganda about defeating US imperialism. In Beijing’s account, the battle marked a watershed for the entire war and forced then-US president Harry Truman to concede and agree on a ceasefire deal signed in Panmunjom in 1953.
Interestingly, the film’s style and description contrast with the 1959 American film Pork Chop Hill by United Artists Corp.
The Korean War, referred to in Chinese history books and official discourse as the “War Arresting America and Defending North Korea,” remains the only time when Chinese and American troops came head to head in battle, after Mao decided to dispatch solders to defend North Korea, out of the fear that his newly founded Communist republic could be the next to suffer if the North fell to the US.
Three other similar war movies will also be shown on CCTV-6 this week.
Last week, Beijing warned that trade talks with the US entered a “fight while talk” mode, referring to how Chinese and US representatives tried to engage each other while the two militaries were still fighting in Korea. This came after Trump pre-empted China with hiked tariffs and threatened to pull out of further talks.