This essay examines Hong Kong’s current status as a global media center from a historical perspective by engaging with the cultural work of the Union Press during the Cold War. Funded by the Asia Foundation, the Union Press engaged in book publishing, textbook production and circulation, organizing student activities, and running student centers, all conducted on a transnational scale involving Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, and all targeted toward young “overseas Chinese.” The Chinese Student Weekly, its most popular Chinese-language cultural journal, remains influential in contemporary discussions of Hong Kong history and identity. Bringing historical studies of Cold War transnationalism and the Chinese diaspora into dialogue with critical information theories, this essay studies the mode of control of the Asia Foundation's network on Chinese-language cultural production. I argue that the Asia Foundation's intention to produce purposive influence through the production and dissemination of information relied on a bureaucratic management of information flow across different networks. This effectively defined the protocols and parameters while leaving “holes” in its structure and creating an illusion of autonomy in the ecology of Chinese-language cultural production. This history allows us to understand clearly the legacy of the Cold War in the age of globalization.


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pp. 589-610
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