Covell Meyskens – Mao’s Massive Military Industrial Campaign to Defend Cold War China


Tuesday, November 10, 2020, 4:00pm to 6:00pm


Zoom (RSVP Required)

Speaker: Covell Meyskens, Assistant Professor of Chinese History, Naval Postgraduate School

In 1964, the Chinese Communist Party made a momentous policy decision. In response to rising tensions with the United States and Soviet Union, a top-secret massive military industrial complex in the mountains of inland China was built, which the CCP hoped to keep hidden from enemy bombers. Mao named this the Third Front. The Third Front received more government investment than any other developmental initiative of the Mao era, and yet this huge industrial war machine, which saw the mobilization of15 million people, was not officially acknowledged for over a decade and a half. Drawing on a rich collection of archival documents, memoirs, and oral interviews, Covell Meyskens provides the first history of the Third Front campaign. He shows how the militarization of Chinese industrialization linked millions of everyday lives to the global Cold War, merging global geopolitics with local change.

Covell Meyskens is Assistant Professor of Chinese history in the National Security Affairs Department at the Naval Postgraduate School. He works on capitalist and anti-capitalist development in modern China, especially as it relates to building big infrastructure projects. His first book, Mao’s Third Front: Militarization of Cold War China, published by Cambridge University Press, examines how the Chinese Communist Party industrialized inland regions in order to protect socialist China from American and Soviet threats. His second book project, The Three Gorges Dam: Building a Hydraulic Engine for China, analyzes state-led efforts to transform China’s Three Gorges region into a hydraulic engine to power national development in the twentieth century. Currently, he is in the process of developing a third project on changing conceptions of national security in modern China. Dr. Meyskens also curates a website of images of everyday life in Maoist China. Meyskens is the author of articles and book chapters on Chinese railroads, the Three Gorges Dam, Sino-North Korean relations, Maoist visual culture, globalization, radio in Mao’s China, and racial violence in the Pacific War.

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