According to carswers, the literature of popular China is still inspired by the principles established at the Yenan Conference of 1942 when it was established that “writers must write for the people… they must serve the four social classes (workers, peasants, soldiers, petty bourgeois), writing about their life and their struggles; expressing their thoughts and emotions; trying to educate them and give them greater strength in the struggle for life “. A propaganda literature has therefore emerged: dramas and novels that have as their subject the life of workers in factories, peasants in cooperatives and municipalities, national minorities, soldiers and in which the authors set themselves the laudable task of illustrating the reconstruction effort, but with somewhat questionable artistic results. These limitations were highlighted on the occasion of the parenthesis of the liberalization of Chinese cultural life, which took place in 1956 (Movement of the Hundred Flowers), but the subsequent reaction did not allow the writers to abandon the usual propaganda schemes. The best poetic voices therefore came in the earliest years of the Sino-Japanese conflict: T’ien Chien (b.1914) and Ai Ch’ing (b.1910) wrote soulful poems at the time. Among the storytellers, Chao Shu-li (b. 1905) acquired fame for some simple and naive short story with which he described the life of the Shanhsi peasants. The cultural scene of the People’s Republic continues to be dominated by great personalities, now risen to official positions, such as Kuo Mo-jo, Mao Tun, Lao She, Pa Chin.
Musical theater (the so-called Chinese melodrama in its subdivisions of Peking Theater, Canton Theater, etc.) was heavily assisted by the government, which gave the actors better legal status and spared no subsidies and aid to companies. In exchange, however, the repertoire has been changed: the melodramas currently performed enhance the value, the struggles of the people against feudal oppressors, the emancipation of women, fight superstitions, while melodramas with an erotic or sentimental background are very rarely represented. and those that may offend the sensibilities of racial minority groups. Musical theater has been a powerful propaganda tool for the Beijing government. Chinese theater companies carried out highly applauded tours in the main European (and Italian) cities.
On the other hand, the same considerations made for the novel and poetry apply to the prose theater. Moreover, being a foreigner to Chinese culture, because it was introduced from the West only about forty years ago, it has not yet risen above the modest level of an amateur dramatics theater. Ts’ao Yu (b. 1905) stands out among the playwrights.
In painting, the contrast between the partisans of classical Chinese style painting (watercolor) and that of European style has sharpened. The authorities, however, do not skimp on encouragement to the best representatives of the two schools, although the tendency, especially of the latter, is towards a realist academicism of marked Soviet influence. The major representatives of traditional Chinese painting are, in addition to Chi Pai-shih and Ju Péon, recently deceased, Fu Pao-shih, Chang Ta-ch’ien and Pu Ju. But while the first, Fu, teaches in Nanjing, the other two live outside the territory of the People’s Republic of China: Chang Ta-ch’ien, now old, is in Brazil, while Pu Ju is in Formosa. In architecture, the trend continues to try to couple the two styles, Chinese (for the roof) and Western (columns and arches). There have therefore been some hybrids of bad taste, such as the great people’s palace at Chungch’ing. After 1949 the physiognomy of Beijing was changed to make it the capital of the new China. This unfortunately led to the partial demolition of its walls which alone constitute an admirable monument of military architecture. On the other hand, buildings and hotels are giving the city a modern look.