by Sun Woo Park
During the Japanese occupation of Shanghai during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Nazi Germany realized the importance of Shanghai not only for its importance as one of China’s largest cities but also for its importance as a staging ground to spread propaganda. In order to wedge distrust between the Chinese and the Americans, German propaganda agents worked to plant the seeds of doubt amongst the Chinese. For example, in 1941, with the Axis Powers having conquered nearly all of continental Europe, the Germans and Japanese “embarked on a campaign to discredit the American dollar,” pointing out to readers in the Monetary Gazette how the fall of Europe and the ongoing realignment of global power would put into doubt how stable America’s economy would be in the foreseeable future.
The Germans also set up the most powerful radio station on the Chinese Coast. XGRS, dubbed “The Voice of Europe,” was operated by German-American Charles L. Flick. Ironically, the German Station broadcasting anti-American propaganda was operated by Americans. Flick, born in Tientsin, China, lived most of his young life in the United States and studied in Brown. Another XGRS worker was Herbert Moy, an American born Chinese. Flick frequently blasted the American Government’s policies such as the Lend-Lease Act and held the U.S. Government in contempt. The German Government was quite willing to continue funding his ventures. According to a reporter on the China Press, “a locally born Armenian boy named Roy Essoyan, who was paid some $300 a month as a reporter, was taken on by the Germans at a salary of $1,000 a month.”
Although the German efforts at anti-Japanese propaganda in Shanghai failed to make any significant impact on the course of the war or U.S.-Chinese relations, it did have a considerable impact on the Chinese population’s view of the United States. German propaganda emerging from Shanghai did succeed in creating the impression that the United States was not concerned with democratic principles but rather was using its ideals as a “propaganda screen” to cover its expansion of economic and financial control of the world.