Although quite a number of research have been done on the development and reform of post-Mao Chinese television in the last decade, very few, if not any, have ever published on the origins and early evolution of Chinese television both in China and the West. In this paper, I have set out to examine systematically the historical development of Chinese television prior to Deng Xiao ping’s era (1958-1976), and to provide a comprehensive analysis and descriptive account of important events in the contexts of Chinese society. I have focused on its establishment, policy evolution, the change of programming content, the structure of its political/ideological control, and its operational models. As a result of this examination, I have tried to make two particular contributions to the field of the history of Chinese television studies:
1) Assessing the origins of Chinese television and its performance in Mao’s era with particular reference to primary materials and original sources;
2) Producing the argument, based on the above study, that Chinese television was a political creation; that, although media development in communist China (with reference to television) was broadly in line with that of the Soviet Union, the Chinese case presents a unique experience with typically Maoist characteristics in pursuit of its radical ideological goal.