As a correspondent for “The New York Times” quipped in early 2018, “People joke that it’s now easier in many Chinese cities to use Communist Party slogans rather than street names to give directions.” Propaganda is everywhere in China—giant red banners espousing the virtue of party loyalty are an inescapable fixture of the modern landscape. In Mandarin, the word “propaganda” itself has come to mean, simply, to “publicity.”
The News Memorial Hall in Yan’an highlights the Chinese government’s use of media as a publicity tool, and proudly displays the roots of the propaganda tradition within the People’s Republic. Like many buildings in the dusty, historic city, the quiet museum is built into the slope of a mountain. Inside are three stories of artifacts, photos, and displays paying homage to the scrappy early days of Communist China’s propaganda arm.
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