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Radio Broadcasting and the Early Cold War in Hong Kong, 1945-1955
Radio wars were waged continually across the twentieth century, with spikes of activity during the Second World War, the Cold War, and during anti-colonial struggles—including in Algeria, as documented by the anti-colonial intellectual, Franz Fanon.

It is to be expected that during the 1940s and 1950s radio propagandists would target Hong Kong people. Many of these people were escapees from China, and the Chinese Communist Party and Guomindang continued to struggle over their hearts and minds. Radio wars over the airwaves in Hong Kong were, however, surprisingly muted and, arguably, inconsequential. Moreover, despite having become an important hub for regional and international wireless electronic communications since the 1920s, Hong Kong did not become a node for radio wars.

Using local, regional and imperial scales of analysis, the paper explores radio soundscapes, that is, their forms and socio-political effects. It focuses on a period when the local state-run broadcaster, Radio Hong Kong, was being encouraged to create new forms of ‘progressive’ colonial propaganda and rebroadcast imperial messages. It investigates intra-empire competition between official Radio Hong Kong news and entertainment and the news and entertainment of a commercial wired station run by Broadcast Relay Services, a British media multinational operating in a range of British colonies, including in South East Asia. The analysis also evaluates how, dissatisfied by local radio broadcasting programming, local business elites mobilised for the establishment of a commercial wireless radio station that would cater for the everyday mass tastes of ordinary Chinese listeners.

Speaker: Dr David Clayton, University of York

Jan 13, 2022 04:30 PM in Singapore

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