Hours after Chinese Leader Xi Jinping was confirmed to meet with President Donald Trump at the upcoming G20 Summit, China’s state broadcaster changed the programming to air an old propaganda movie that portrayed the United States in a positive light.
The airing stood in stark contrast to the spate of Anti-American films that had played on the state broadcaster since trade tensions between the two countries heated up in early May.
The state broadcaster’s movie channel CCTV6 on June 18 canceled a comedy scheduled for June 19 to make room for a romance set in WWII, called Lover’s Grief over the Yellow River.
The 1999 film depicts an American WWII pilot who is rescued by communist soldiers in China and falls in love with a Chinese army nurse who tended to him.
Hours earlier, Trump said he spoke with Xi and confirmed the two countries would resume trade talks and meet at the G20 Summit in Japan later this month.
The film drew the attention of many Chinese social media users, who noted that CCTV6 had been airing anti-American movies for the past few weeks in the aftermath of the deterioration of trade talks between the two countries.
“I remember that on the day when the U.S. announced the tariff hike, CCTV6 broadcasted Battle of Triangle Hill, but after a phone call, there comes the … love story between China and America—since when did CCTV6 become the barometer of Sino-US relationships?” one user said.
Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods in early May, saying the Chinese regime backtracked on commitments negotiated over months of trade talks.
Following this, CCTV started airing anti-American Korean War films, which originally were produced as anti-U.S. propaganda in reaction to the war. The films included Heroic Sons and Daughters, Guards on the Railway Line, and Battle of Triangle Hill.
CCTV said in May 17 post on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, that it was “using literary works such as films to echo the current era.”
State-run media, meanwhile, ramped up its anti-America rhetoric, criticizing the United States for being “extreme” and a “bully,” while claiming that China would not step back in the face of pressure.
Chinese netizens also poked fun at the state broadcaster’s apparent role in engaging in “film diplomacy.”
“This face changing skill is no slower than flipping through books!” one user said.
Another user commented: “No matter what kind of emotions, the film channel always manages to throw out something to match it.”
In an article dated June 20, state-run media Global Times known for its hawkish rhetoric refuted claims of warming sino-U.S. relations, cautioning netizens against making “a random connection between the airing of movies on TV and current diplomatic affairs.”
Chen Chuangchuang, the director of the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars, in a May interview with The Epoch Times’ sister media NTD, said the regime relied on such propaganda films to prop its position before domestic audiences.
“[The Chinese Communist Party] is simply inciting anti-American sentiments as an emotional outlet … it asserts a tough image for Chinese nationals to see.” Chen said.