Fighting talk - The Coming War on China

  • Film
Fighting talk - The Coming War on China


Thu, 01/12/2016 - 16:19


John Pilger in The Coming War on China
John Pilger in The Coming War on China
01 December, 2016

Certificate PG

THERE are some things in life that you should not do if you want to skip merrily through your day, gaze peacefully at the clouds and smile at your fellow humans.

One certain thing to throw you off kilter is to read or watch anything by John Pilger: they’ll fill you with guilt and righteous fury. 

This film, his 60th such documentary, has him on his usual brilliant, cynical, power-attacking form, sticking two fingers up to The Man in its guise as the military industrial complex of the USA.  

The basic premise is the USA has subtly shifted its gaze from Russia and the Middle East towards China, aware that the Communist nation is essentially the biggest threat to their global reach.

He reveals how the USA has created a ring of 400 bases encircling the country in what he calls a “noose” – and is fearful of how the Chinese have forged a form of Communism that is essentially a 21st century capitalist hybrid, and relates very little to anything Marx would recognise. This scares the USA, big time.

The film covers how the USA has long held economic interests in China, dating back to the opium trade in the 19th century (vignettes include how FDR Roosevelt’s family wealth was all built essentially on drug peddling) and how the defeat of Chiang Kai-shek was a disaster for numerous American firms which had long exploited the country. 

We are then taken through a potted history of American military influence in the Pacific, and how they used islands and atolls as nuclear testing grounds, wrecking the homes of islanders, poisoning water and land as they sought to build bigger and bigger bombs. He shouts angrily at how these island peoples have been treated by a superpower, and, as ever, Pilger finds nuggets that just shows the preposterously mean and blinkered way global politics affects us all: “Every missile placed on the Marshall Islands costs the USA £1,000m each, yet they cannot afford a school bus for the people of the islands where they are testing the missiles aimed at China.”

What is perhaps scariest about this film is how he points out that a nuclear war between the United States and China is not only imaginable but a current “contingency”, according to the Pentagon. 

Pilger says: “The aim of this film is to break a silence. A new cold war is under way along with the drumbeat to war, this time with the real possibility of nuclear weapons.”

Whatever your views of Pilger’s politics, he remains in the vanguard of journalism, able to eloquently challenge accepted beliefs and in doing so shine a light in corners you suspect other media, who sup from the same trough as those in power, would rather not venture.

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