"The Coming War on China" is the latest film by veteran radical filmmaker John Pilger. It is a groundbreaking film about U.S.-China relations, which debunks the myth of China's supposed expansionist aims and objectives in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. Its aim is to "break the silence" about what is really happening. It shows that the dominant narrative in the Western media about China has been crafted in such a way as to make the aggressor appear to be the victim.
In order to present a more balanced and accurate account of U.S.-China relations, Pilger delves into the historical background – the Opium Wars – which led to China's century of humiliation at the hands of Western powers. He reveals that U.S. drug dealers profiting from Chinese opium trade used this money to develop America's first five railroads and to establish top east coast university cities: Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Colombia. Indeed, former U.S. President Roosevelt's personal wealth originated from his family's role in the China drug trade. However, Chinese people were demonized with the help of Hollywood. They were presented as sinister and dangerous people, and were perceived as "the yellow peril."
Pilger shows that the 1949 revolution not only brought an end to China's national humiliation, it also exacerbated the implacable hostility of the USA towards a truly independent China.
The film is broken into different sections. It examines U.S.-China policies historically and in relation to China today. And it shows the fate of the tiny islands used by the United States as nuclear testing sites. It also looks at present day popular resistance – on the Marshall Islands, in Okinawa in Japan, and on the Jeju Islands in South Korea – against U.S. naval bases that are designed to attack China.
America's $600 billion military budget ensures continued U.S. global hegemony and technological superiority. Out-going U.S. President Obama's so-called Pivot to Asia strategy, identified China as the primary enemy of the U.S. The U.S. military doctrine Vision 2020, aims to achieve full-spectrum dominance, which means it seeks control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum: in outer-space, on earth, in the air, on the seas, under the sea, as well as in psychological, biological and cyber forms of war.
Pilger visits Bikini Island, one of the Marshall Islands, and tells the horrific story of how, from 1946 onwards, the U.S. used these islands as a testing ground for the H-bomb. And, incredibly, the equivalent of one Hiroshima bomb was exploded there every day for 12 years. This testing on Bikini Island was, perversely, turned into the embodiment of sexual desire – and it became the marketing concept for the skimpy women's beachwear, now universally known as the bikini.
The consequences for the people of these islands were catastrophic. Cases of cancer culled the population. Babies were born that resembled jellyfish rather than human beings. And U.S. officials regarded this as an experiment to gather data about the impact of radiation on humans. Despite efforts by U.S. officials and the U.S. government to present this as some sort of historical mistake, Pilger shows that the U.S. gave almost no compensation to the islanders, and that their barbaric treatment continues to this day. He visits the Reagan Missile test site in the Marshall Islands. Each missile fired from this base costs US$100 million. But less than 1 mile away, 12,000 locals and refugees from other contaminated islands live without any healthcare treatment and in squalor. Many have no electricity or access to clean water.
Pilger visits China for the first time since the 1970s and is astounded by the progress in human development, living standards, infrastructure and openness. His interviews with locals crush the widespread myth that the Chinese people are enslaved and have no freedom. And he interviews businessman and social scientist Eric Li, who correctly explains that although China has many billionaires and wealthy capitalists, politics decides what happens, not the interests of big business lobbies. Li points out that Western governments cannot change the basic policies that are operative in their countries. These basic policies remain the same regardless of changes in the elected government because society is dominated by the interests of big business. However, in China, the Communist Party remains in command, and the sweep and scope of changes that have happened are far greater than in Western countries.
This film is a wake-up call to thinking people everywhere. It can play an important role, particularly in view of Donald Trump's hostile language and behavior towards China. By countering the lies of the China threat, Pilger has produced a powerful weapon against a U.S. war on China.
Heiko Khoo is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:
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