Socialist Worker

John Pilger's film The Coming War On China exposes US brutality in Pacific Ocean

Issue No. 2532

Filmmaker John Pilger

Filmmaker John Pilger (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Veteran left wing filmmaker John Pilger turns the tables on US scaremongering about Chinese military expansion by exposing the imperialist history of the US in the Asia-Pacific region.

His new film gives a historical context for the US government’s build-up of forces there to counter China’s rise.

The longest and most powerful segment looks at the appalling treatment of people in the Marshall Islands, a US colony in a key strategic location.

They were driven from their homes so that Bikini Atoll could be blown up in a nuclear weapons test.

Then they were sent back to perhaps the world’s most radioactive places, where many developed cancer and died.

Today those doing menial jobs on a US base there commute home to an island dubbed “the slum of the Pacific”.

There’s no electricity on this island, nor running water or healthcare.

Pilger also looks at militarisation through a US base on the Japanese island of Okinawa—and the resistance against it on the streets and the ballot box.

Activists in the South Korean island of Jeju talk of their opposition to a US missile base targeting China.

These segments make Pilger’s case for building the global “third superpower” of mass movements against a nuclear imperialism that could kill us all.

The film is less than the sum of its parts. A segment on China feels padded and redundant. Too many clips rely on an

already-outdated map of US bases, and some of the analysis is shallow at best.

But at its best it is a stinging rebuke to a lying and lethal empire.

The Coming War on China by John Pilger. Screenings from 1 December

Reviews round-up

MUSIC

Veteran Hip hop artist Common’s new album Black America Again is the latest in a new wave of politically charged hip hop.

It’s title track Black America Again riffs off Donald Trump’s election slogan, “Make America great again”.

But its words and music video speak to the Black Lives Matter movement, and anger at police racism.

The video opens with the type of grainy mobile phone footage that’s all too familiar. A cop throws Alton Sterling, a black man from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to the floor.

The camera turns away and gunshots are heard.

Then in fades the piano and Common’s opening lyrics, “here we go again/Trayvon’ll never get to be an older man”.

There’s no shortage of political hip hop at the moment. But Common’s new album is among the best.

Black America again by Common. Def Jam Recordings. Out now

BOOK LAUNCH

Celebrating a movement of both cultural and political importance, Reminiscences of RAR—Rocking Against Racism 1976-1981 hears from a number of collaborators, rockers and fighters.

Rock Against Racism began in 1976 in response to a rise in racist attacks and the growth of the Nazi National Front.

This book brings together the reminiscences of activists and supporters during the period.

The launch event will host talks, readings and, of course, music.

It won’t just look back at the events of 40 years ago, but also at the struggles and fights we face in Britain today.

Reminiscences of RAR, central London book launch, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, WC1R 4RL. Mon 5 Dec, 7pm

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