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The Real Manchurian Candidates: Chinese war criminals in the postwar, prisoners of history

Accepted version
Peer-reviewed

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Article

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Abstract

jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pThe Manchurian Candidate myth that Americans could be psychologically manipulated and turned into secret agents of a foreign power emerged in the early Cold War. The belief combined fears that Soviet/Chinese mind manipulators were so adept that they could transform honorable American soldiers into turncoats. However, while disquiet about the efficacy of communist brainwashing remained palpable in the aftermath of World War II, the result of China's communist treatment of prisoners of war did not create, as was greatly feared, actual Manchurian candidates capable of misleading their native publics once repatriated. If brainwashing in the American understanding of the term did not occur, what was the actual outcome and what sort of processes were used on Asians who were not part of the communist masses? We need to unravel the PRC's take on the processes of “thought reform” to understand why it kept returning to a policy designed to “re-educate” prisoners of war, often doubly labeled as war criminals. These policies not only reveal how the CCP aimed to render justice beyond the conclusion of its war with Japan but also demonstrate how this practice then grew into a later catalyst for unification plans in PRC-ROC relations during the 1970s.</jats:p>

Description

Keywords

Brainwashing, Japan, justice, PRC, ROC, Taiwan, war crimes, war criminal

Journal Title

International Journal of Asian Studies

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

1479-5914
1479-5922

Volume Title

Publisher

Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Sponsorship
Isaac Newton Trust (18.40(a))