Taiwan’s Giant Wall of Propaganda Spewing Speakers

Jun 13, 2019 0 comments

Beishan Broadcasting Wall

Just off the southeastern coast of mainland China, lies a group of two islands collectively called Kinmen. For over seventy years, these islands have occupied a unique position in the delicate relationship between China and Taiwan.

Kinmen Islands’ location is the most peculiar. The islands sit in a small bay practically surrounded by the Chinese mainland, yet it is governed by Taiwan, which lies approximately one hundred miles away across the Taiwan Strait. The political status of Taiwan itself is a contentious issue with the Taiwanese people declaring themselves as an independent nation, and China still maintaining a claim on the island it received as war spoils after the end of the Second World War.

Being located closer to mainland China, Kinmen frequently found itself in the middle of the political tug-of-war between China and Taiwan. The islands were the site of the bloody Battle of Guningtou in 1949, when China tried to seize control of the islands but failed, effectively halting its advance towards Taiwan. The battle was significant for Taiwan because it laid the foundation for the current status quo between the two feuding parts of China. However, because no armistice or peace treaty was signed, the fundamental issues remain unresolved and both states were seen frequently at odds.

kinmen islands map

Two major conflicts took place during the 1950s as China and Taiwan jostled to take control of the handful of islands in the Taiwan Strait. The Kinmen Islands in particular saw heavy shelling. After the loss of about a thousand lives, China announced it would bomb the islands only on odd-numbered days, with shells containing propaganda leaflets instead of explosives. Taiwan began to do likewise on even days of the week. This odd arrangement continued until China normalized relations with the US in 1979.

Related: The Strange Case of Kijong-dong And Daeseong-dong

During the same period, four broadcast stations were built in the Kinmen Islands that broadcast propaganda messages and music at ear-splitting decibels across the water towards mainland China. Many broadcasts from the Taiwan side attacked Mao and the Communist Party, while others depicted the rich and happy life of the Chinese on the island of Taiwan. Broadcasts from the mainland side urged national unity and encouraged Taiwanese soldiers and officers to return home to the mainland. Sometimes Taiwan would broadcast songs of Teresa Teng, a Taiwanese singer known for her sweet voice to win the hearts of those on the mainland.

One of these broadcasting stations, the Beishan Broadcast Wall, built in 1967, is a three-story concrete structure with 48 loudspeakers built into it. It’s sound reportedly travelled as far as 25 kilometers. The Wall is a popular tourist attraction today.

chinese propaganda posters

Uncles from the People's Liberation Army! Quickly go and liberate our little distressed friends in Taiwan, 1955

chinese propaganda posters

Resolutely liberate Taiwan, save the Taiwanese people from their misery!, 1955

chinese propaganda posters

Liberate Taiwan, annihilate the remnants of the bandit Chiang Kai-shek, 1954

chinese propaganda posters

Left: Save our Taiwanese compatriots!, 1954
Right: We must liberate Taiwan, 1958


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