John Pilger on strong form in another accusatory documentary.
In addition to being a distinguished investigative journalist, John Pilger is a very competent filmmaker and I praised both The War on Democracy (2007) and Utopia (2013) which were released in cinemas. It could be argued that this new film of his presented in four titled sections would be more at home on television where it might have gained from being screened in two parts. But, even so, The Coming War on China is another accomplished piece with much to say that is truly disturbing.
I have previously described Pilger as being less an objective reporter than a crusader and those who take a different stance from his may like to accuse him of bias. It is certainly true that just as his 2007 project commented devastatingly on the role played by the U.S. in Latin America, The Coming War on China is set up as an argued exposé of American military tactics in relation to the Far East and to China in particular. It is on its firmest ground in its first section when detailing the use of the Marshall Islands for H-bomb tests in the 1950s involving a lack of concern for the people living there which, turning them into involuntary guinea pigs, was a disgrace of the most culpable kind.
Moving on from there, Pilger's film concentrates on the number of bases set up by the Americans capable of targeting China and then argues the case that, however bad human rights issues may be in that country and however abhorrent the class divide there, there is every reason to believe that China's commercial ambitions do not involve a threat on any other level. It is the U.S. government that wants to be emperor of the world and with its heavily equipped bases runs the risk of adopting an aggressive stance that could lead to a fatal missile launch as has already nearly happened. If Trump's presidency adds to the risk, Pilger would see that not as a change but as a development of what already exists, as witness his comments on Obama's expenditure on nuclear weapons regardless of earlier comments of his suggesting a different outlook. At close on two hours, The Coming War on China offers almost too much for a single sitting, but it is powerful stuff delivered by a thoughtful man who never holds back from saying exactly what he thinks.
Featuring John Pilger, Eric Li, Professor Bruce Cumings, James Bradley, Professor Zhang Weiwei.
Dir John Pilger, Pro John Pilger, Screenplay John Pilger, Ph Rupert Bensley, Ed Joe Fort, Music Joe Fort.
Dartmouth Films-Dartmouth Films.
113 mins. UK. 2016. Rel: 5 December 2016. Cert. 12A.