Engendered perceptions: reconsidering wartime female Tewu (special agent) activities and narratives of “Honey Traps” in the Early People’s Republic of China, 1949–1959

Amanda Zhang

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Abstract

This article considers how Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials understood, perceived, and experienced enemy female tewu (special agent) activities and “honey traps” during the early People’s Republic of China. Drawing upon internally circulated party reports and newsletters, speeches of officials, newspapers, films, literature, and dramas, it finds that officials saw enemy female tewu as real threats that had tangible impact on both civilians and men affiliated with the party through honey traps and gendered manipulations. It further argues that narratives of female tewu in official instructions, newspaper reports, and popular cultural works played a larger role in the CCP’s broader efforts to combat and resist enemy espionage than previously understood. This article contextualises existing arguments about CCP counterespionage propaganda. It counterbalances perspectives that suggest the utilisation of these narratives was largely based on irrational wartime sentiments, with the primary aim of increasing the party’s societal control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-216
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Chinese Military History
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2023

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