Marketing war and the military to children and youth in China: Little Red Soldiers in the digital age

Orna Naftali*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Since the early 2000s, the Chinese military has been engaged in the production of military- and war-themed cultural products which increasingly employ new media and new technologies. Many of these products specifically target children and youth, and many are also a result of collaborations between the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and commercial forces. This article offers a preliminary exploration of how such PLA-civilian productions attempt to package and market war and the military to contemporary Chinese children and youth. It compares these current endeavours to previous depictions of war and the military in the youth culture of the Maoist period, and reflects on what this comparison can tell us about recent changes in official as well as popular conceptualizations of childhood, youth, and violence in the People's Republic of China. The analysis demonstrates that contemporary PLA products for children and youth display positive attitudes toward the military and toward officially sanctioned military violence. However, these products also subscribe to new public sensitivities about children and their involvement in acts of brutality, thereby reflecting the changing needs and interests of the PLA and of the Chinese Communist Party in the post-Cold War, post-Tiananmen era.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3-25
Number of pages23
JournalChina Information
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2014

Keywords

  • children's media
  • military
  • patriotic education
  • post-socialist China
  • war
  • youth culture

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