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China releases record $200M anti-US propaganda war movie

A column of troops and armor of the 1st Marine Division move through communist Chinese lines during their successful breakout from the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. (Photo by Cpl. Peter McDonald, U.S. Marine Corps)
October 11, 2021

A new record-setting $200 million Chinese war movie commissioned by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) depicts the Korean War Battle of Chosin Reservoir as a key victory for the Chinese forces that fought against the U.S. and United Nations, despite suffering major losses.

The nearly three-hour-long movie, “The Battle at Lake Changjin” — the Chinese name for the Battle of Chosin Reservoir — released September 30 tells the story of the battle from the Chinese perspective. While the U.S. views the battle as a successful fight to break through an encirclement by a larger Chinese force that suffered heavier casualties, CNN reported China sees the battle as its most critical victory during the war and refers to it as the “War to Resist American Aggression and Aid Korea.”

CNN also reported the new movie is the “most expensive film” made in China to date, with a budget of 1.3 billion yuan (about $200 million).

China’s Tencent News reported the film was planned, created and filmed under the direct guidance of the Chinese government’s Central Propaganda Department and the National Film Administration and had the support of the Propaganda Bureau of Political Work Department of China’s Central Military Commission, the Propaganda Department of the Beijing Municipal Party Committee, and the Propaganda Departments of the Liaoning and Hebei Provincial Party Committees.

The Daily Mail reported the film’s release was also deliberately timed to come out in the same year as the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ruling CCP. The New York Times reported the film was also released ahead of China’s annual October holiday, known as Golden Week. Golden Week celebrates the founding of the modern Chinese government, the People’s Republic of China, under its ruling CCP.

According to Variety, the Chinese war movie has already earned about $633 million since its release and is the fourth highest-grossing film of 2021.

The Daily Mail reported the Chinese war movie’s box office success may be due, in part, the Chinese government organizing cinema trips for its extensive workforce.

The Associated Press reported the Chinese government has also emphasized less travel and more moviegoing during this year’s seven-day Golden Week national holiday. The Chinese government already has tight control over what foreign films can be shown in China and enforces an unofficial ban on foreign productions during Golden Week.

The timing of “The Battle at Like Changjin” also comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and China in recent years. China has depicted its military forces defeating U.S. forces in part military films, such as “Wolf Warrior,” which tells the fictional story of a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) special operations soldier who battles with an ex-U.S. Navy SEAL turned mercenary. Wolf Warrior 2, China’s highest-grossing film, also depicts a battle between the PLA special operations Wolf Warrior unit and an American mercenary force.