“We Are Not Interested in the Politics of the Situation”: The Radio Corporation of America in Nationalist China, 1928–37

  • Michael A. Krysko
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media book series (PSHM)


RCA quickly put the Federal debacle behind it. The company agreed to two radio contracts with China’s new Nationalist regime in 1928, and had two new stations operational in China by the early 1930s. The optimism surrounding the potential for Sino-American radiotelegraphy returned in full force. When RCA opened the first of those radio links between China and the United States in 1930, company president James Harbord predicted that the new Sino-American radio connections “will be a factor in bringing China and the United States into a closer relationship.”1 Convinced that a stagnant China had been historically disconnected from the ongoing global march of progress, RCA Vice President William Winterbottom metaphorically claimed that radio made a “breach in the Great Wall of China’s isolation.” “This direct service,” Winterbottom continued, “gives China an independent communication system operated by the Chinese Government to aid in developing foreign markets and increasing her trade and commerce.”2


Chinese Government Federal Communication Commission Radio Communication Chinese State Arbitration Clause 
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  1. 7.
    Chu Chia-hua [Zhu Jiahua], China’s Postal and Other Communications Services. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1937), 151. Prior to his service as Minister of Education and Minister of Communications, Zhu served as the Commissioner of Civil Aaffairs in Zhejiang province. He was elected to the Central Executive Committee of the Nationalist party in 1929 and then became the Chairman of the Zhejiang provincial government. He had also served as president of Nanjing’s Central University.Google Scholar
  2. See R. Keith Schoppa, Blood Road: The Mystery of Shen Dingyi in Revolutionary China ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995 ), 12Google Scholar
  3. Donald A. Jordan, Chinese Boycotts versus Japanese Bombs: The Failure of China’s “Revolutionary Diplomacy,” 1931–1932 ( Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991 ), 242Google Scholar
  4. 43.
    For Chen Mingshu’s opposition to Chiang Kai-shek, see Lloyd E. Eastman, The Abortive Revolution: China under Nationalist Rule, 1927–1937 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974), 85–139, esp. 88–93, 108, 137–9; see also Sun, China and the Origins of the Pacific War, 17. For Chen and the radio controversy, see Shecklen to RCA’s general foreign representative Samuel Reber, 1 September 1932; Shecklen to Winterbottom, 16 September 1932; “Chen Ming-shu [Chen Mingshu] Again Resigning,” 22 October 1932, China Times (translation); all documents from file “China: Chinese Arbitration Correspondence–July– November 1932 (4 of 13),” box 581, MCI International Papers.Google Scholar
  5. 63.
    On the road to the Pacific War, see Barnhart, Japan Prepares for Total War. On the aftermath of the John Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (New York: W.W. Norton, 1999). For a more concise treatment of those topics see LaFeber, The Clash, 160–213, 257–95.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael A. Krysko 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. Krysko
    • 1
  1. 1.Kansas State UniversityUSA

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