Hidden History: US Empire Building in China and the South Pacific

The Coming War on China

Directed by John Pilger (2016)

Film Review

Two things I’ve learned over the years about John Pilger films are 1) there’s virtually no link between the film’s title and its content 2) they all include include considerable hidden history not taught in public schools. .

The main focus of this documentary is US empire building in the Pacific and its disastrous effect on US-China relations.

A good third of the film concerns the US annexation of the Marshall islands following World War II, followed by the cynical US government decisions to use residents (referred to as “savages” in classified documents) as radiation guinea pigs in atmospheric nuclear tests. .

After bombing some of the islands daily for 12 years, residents were forcibly returned to Rongelap despite dangerously high water and soil radiation levels. The US government then subjected them to repeated scans and blood tests to assess their response to the irradiated food they were eating.

As more and more developed cancer and produced offspring with birth defects, they begged the US government to move them. When the Americans declined, they appealed to Greenpeace International, which deployed the Rainbow Warrior to move them to an uncontaminated island in 1985.

The Marshall Islands are also home to the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Site. The latter forms part of a ring of strategic nuclear bases surrounding and aimed at China. This “noose” includes bases in Okinawa Japan (which are strongly opposed by local residents), South Korea, the Philippines and Australia.

Much of the film concerns the US occupation of China prior to the 1949 revolution (which I was totally unaware of), in large part to protect a thriving opium trade that was second only to slavery in providing capital wealth to the US corporate elite.*

The film also totally debunks common myths the US government promotes to justify their encirclement of China.

Myth 1: China aims to replace the US as the primary global empire.

Fact check: China has no interest in “converting” foreigners to their way of life as the US does. They simply refuse to be economically or politically controlled by US interests, like so-called US allies are. In Western Europe, for example, countries with nominal independence are forbidden to pursue foreign policy contrary to US interests.

Myth 2: Mao was an implacable enemy of the West.

Fact check: Mao Zedong secretly sought to establish diplomatic relations with Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower. After State Department officials who delivered Mao’s messages were fired as traitors, there was no on left in the State Department who could speak Mandarin.

Myth 3: China has a capitalist economy.

Fact check: China has a free market economy. According to Pilger, they reject the “capitalist” label because their billionaires aren’t permitted to influence or control  government operations as happens in the US.

*Roosevelt derived his wealth from his maternal grandfather Warren Delano, dubbed the US opium king. Former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles derived his wealth from his great grandfather’s opium smuggling. All the Eastern Ivy League universities were founded with opium money.

 

 

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