This Chinese movie inexplicably places Mao Zedong in key World War II conference he didn't actually attend

Poster for film
(Image credit: Twitter)

A Chinese film dramatizing a key World War II summit takes a couple liberties with history — notably by inserting Mao Zedong into it. The Cairo Declaration, produced by a studio run by the People's Liberation Army, centers on the 1943 meeting between Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and China's Nationalist leader Chaing Kai-shek, A.K.A. not Mao. In real life, the committee assessed the military progress against Japan and agreed on the divvying up of postwar territory, but Mao played no part at all in the dialog. That's where a little movie magic comes into play, apparently.

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"At this point, when he was in his cave in Yan'an, Mao had yet to meet a single representative of the American government," Adam Cathcard, a University of Leeds historian, explained to The Guardian. "The Dalai Lama, who was not even 10 years old, got more correspondence from the U.S. president."

That hasn't stopped the people behind The Cairo Declaration from putting Mao front and center on their posters, though. But Chinese jokesters are having none of it: Bloggers responded by spoofing posters with images of Saddam Hussein or the Minions attending the Cairo Declaration conference. Another spoof replaced Mao Zedong on the poster with president Xi Jinping, who was born a full decade after the Cairo Declaration took place.

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A spokesperson for The Cairo Declaration insisted to China's Globe Times that the Mao poster was to "pay tribute" to the role of the Communist party in World War II, but even the state-controlled media is snickering.

"By featuring Mao, who was not present at the meeting, but excluding Chaing, the poster shows no respect for history nor to Mao," art critic Sima Pingbang told Global Times. Jeva Lange

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.