In future decades, 2016 will be remembered as the year of Brexit, the rise of far-right populist forces all over the European continent and of President Trump. So what can we expect from the years to come? The Australian veteran investigative journalist John Pilger paints a very bleak picture in his last documentary The Coming War on China (Dartmouth Films, 2016), a movie that, as he says, aims to denounce the possibility of a nuclear war between the US and China.
Pilger shows how China has been progressively encircled by US military bases and nuclear weapons and how quickly this could escalate. The Obama administration has in fact clearly shifted the geopolitical focus of the US towards the Pacific, in an open challenge to China.
The Coming War on China follows the structure of previous Pilger documentaries such as The War on Democracy (2007) and leads the spectator on a journey around the countries involved, from the Marshall Islands to China and Okinawa and through history as well, from the Opium Wars to Mao’s revolution.
The journalist leads the spectator in person, as we follow him in his journeys and interactions with different people in different areas. The list of interviewees is diverse, ranging from historians to policy makers, journalists, analysts and strategists both Chinese and American. We look at a very vast issue through a very informed filter.
This film debunks the mainstream view that Beijing and Washington’s relationship is based solely on realpolitik and pragmatism, given the fact that the People’s Bank of China has been providing relief to the massive debt of the United States for years.
On the human side, while the movie shows China’s wealth, it also focuses on the massive social issues and struggles that involve a country with one billion inhabitants. The human element also plays an important role; how much Chinese and Americans really know one another and how much their views are based on misconceptions and stereotypes? The film also depicts human stories: ordinary people suffering because they were caught in the middle of the US military expansion in the Pacific. There’s also hope, as activists lend a hand.
What can we expect from 2017? Is President Trump going to follow an even more aggressive stance towards China than his predecessor, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Barack Obama or is he going to be an isolationist? Right now, this seems unpreditable. Trump has used a very aggressive stance towards China during his electoral campaign; but will he turn words into action or was it just hot air? Will there be another Cold War? What about apocalypse? Only time will tell. These are some of the questions that the film raises.
The Coming War on China will be screened at the Soho Curzon, in London, on Wednesday December 21st, followed by a Q&A with the film director – just click here for more information.
Watch the film trailer below: