Wang Baoqiang: China’s Peasant-Soldier celebrity

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article examines how the early roles of the film star and actor-director Wang Baoqiang connect to the iconic class figures of peasant and soldier that were made popular in Maoist-era propaganda, and tracks how his portrayal of these class figures helped establish him as a film star and a modern-day celebrity in a contemporary Chinese context. These Maoist figures have a long cultural life, and their importance still reverberate today. I begin by briefly introducing Wang and explaining the social and ideological contexts of the peasant and soldier Maoist figures–the peasant ‘everyman’ and the People’s Liberation Army soldier ‘hero’–and then explore these figures and their iconic characteristics. First, I examine Wang’s roles as peasants and rural migrants, who are naïve, honest and hardworking characters whose endurance and earnestness inspire other migrants to succeed. Then, I examine two of his soldier roles, and how they invoke the altruistic and sacrificial Maoist tropes attached to this group, as well as allude to the iconic persona of Lei Feng, a selfless Maoist soldier hero who was not only ideologically important during the Maoist era but whose image has been ‘resurrected’ in the contemporary period by the state to promote patriotism. I conclude by considering the use of iconic Maoist character tropes in Chinese celebrity studies and consider how these socio-historical and aesthetic icons intersect with modern-day celebrity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-293
Number of pages9
JournalCelebrity Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese actors
  • Chinese stars
  • Maoist class figures
  • Wang Baoqiang

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Wang Baoqiang: China’s Peasant-Soldier celebrity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this