In 1944, a rebellion in China's northwestern Xinjiang Province prompted Chiang Kai-shek to send his most trusted lieutenant, Zhang Zhizhong, to negotiate with the rebels and to attempt to consolidate Nationalist China's hold over the perennially restive frontier province. Zhang's innovative adaptation of tested Soviet models of minority representation tapped into and reinterpreted a long tradition of established cultural paradigms for digesting and representing the internal “other” within China. The most visible and widely disseminated projects that Zhang sponsored in the waning days of Nationalist China represent a determined eleventh-hour propaganda attempt to integrate the seldom-seen Central Asian frontier into the greater conception of a unified Chinese republic. This effort also marks one of the earliest instances of the Chinese state attempting to employ mass propaganda media to disseminate—among a large and diverse audience—a modified version of established modes of ethnic representation previously in currency only among a limited subsection of elite and official society.

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