The coming war on China
The coming war on China
The US is increasing its military and its nuclear weapons in Asia and the Pacific against China. John Pilger writes about a dangerous situation.
© US Navy
Ii took me two years to make a film, The Coming War on China. The film says that nuclear war is a possibility. The increase in the American military is now the greatest since the Second World War. The military are on the western borders of Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, against China.
The United States sees the new Russia and the new economic power of China as a danger. And so in 2011 President Obama said the US would move almost two-thirds of its naval forces to Asia and the Pacific by 2020.
Today, there are more than 400 American military bases around China with missiles, bombers, warships, and nuclear weapons. The bases make a circle around China from Australia north through the Pacific to Japan, Korea, and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India.
The RAND Corporation has planned America’s wars since Vietnam. Its new study is called War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable. The US Army asked for the study and its authors talk about and remember the Cold War. Then its chief strategist, Herman Kahn wrote a book, On Thermonuclear War, about a plan for a nuclear war against the Soviet Union. Today, the people in power in the US in the Pentagon, in the intelligence agencies, and in Congress agree with Kahn’s ideas. The Secretary of Defence, Ashley Carter, says the US is against those who want to stop and take away America’s power.
Today, there are more than 400 American military bases around China with missiles, bombers, warships, and nuclear weapons. Charles Gatward: The Coming War on China, Darmouth Films
Amitai Etzioni is professor of international affairs at George Washington University. I met him in Washington. He writes that the US is preparing for a war with China. So far the White House and Congress have not looked at and thought about this big decision.
He writes that this war would begin with a big attack against China including land and sea-based missile launchers, satellite and anti-satellite weapons. The risk is that the Chinese may think the attack is against its nuclear weapons. This would leave the Chinese with a decision to use or lose the weapons and this would lead to nuclear war.
The Pentagon’s 2015 Law of War Manual says that nuclear weapons are lawful for the United States.
In China, a strategist told me, ‘We are not your enemy, but if you in the West decide that we are, we must prepare immediately.’ China does not have a military as large as the US or as many weapons. But Gregory Kulacki of the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote that for the first time China is talking about having its nuclear missiles ready so that they can use them quickly if there is an attack. This would be an important and dangerous change in Chinese policy.
Andrew Krepinevich was a Pentagon war planner and the author of war games against China. He wants to ‘punish’ China for bringing its defences to the South China Sea. His idea is to put mines under the ocean and to send US special forces. He told me, ‘Our first president, George Washington, said if you want peace, prepare for war.’
In 2015 the US had secretly its biggest military exercise since the Cold War. This was Talisman Sabre. Ships and bombers practised an ‘Air-Sea Battle Concept for China’ – ASB. It blocked sea lanes in the Straits of Malacca and stopped China from getting oil, gas, and other materials from the Middle East and Africa.
Because of the fear of a US Navy attack China started building airstrips in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Last July, the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China when it said it could use the islands. The Philippines brought the action against China but American and British lawyers presented the action and Hillary Clinton the then US Secretary of State was also behind it.
In 2010, Clinton flew to Manila. She wanted Manila to open the US military bases again. They were closed in the 1990s after a popular campaign against the violence they started especially against Filipino women. She said China’s claim on the Spratly Islands was a problem for US national security. The Spratly Islands are more 7,500 miles (12,000 kilometres) from the United States.
Nerje Joseph is a survivor of nuclear tests on the Marshall Islands between 1946-58. She shows a picture of her injuries as a child.
The US gave millions of dollars in arms and military equipment to Manila. And the government of President Benigno Aquino stopped talks with China and signed a secret agreement with the US. This gave the US five bases and said that American forces and companies were not under Philippine law.
The Pentagon spends more than $4 billion on propaganda to give to the media. The Obama government started a propaganda campaign that said China was a problem for free movement of ships.
Admiral Harry Harris is the head of propaganda and the US military commander in Asia and the Pacific. Harris is one of a number of Pentagon admirals and generals who give information to journalists and broadcasters who will believe it. They want to show that China is a danger. This is as wrong as the information George W Bush and Tony Blair used to attack Iraq.
In Los Angeles in September 2016, Harris said he was ready to attack Russia and China. He said if we have to fight tonight, I don’t want it to be a fair fight. If it’s a knife fight, I want to bring a gun. If it’s a gun fight, I want to bring the military and all our partners with their military.
These ‘partners’ include South Korea, which in a way belongs to America and is the launch pad for the Pentagon’s Air Defence, which seems to be aimed at North Korea. Professor Postol says it is aimed at China.
In Sydney, Australia, Harris asked China to ‘take away its Great Wall in the South China Sea’. It was front-page news in the newspapers. Australia follows America in many ways; its politicians, military, intelligence agencies and Murdoch’s media.
China is Australia’s biggest trader and is very important for the national economy. The US wants Australia to be against China. The Murdoch media criticises the few politicians who disagree with the US. One of the most important US bases is Pine Gap near Alice Springs. The CIA uses it to watch China and all of Asia, and it is important for their war with drones in the Middle East.
Richard Marles is the defence spokesperson of the Australian opposition party, the Labour Party. In October 2016 he asked for military leaders to make decisions against China in the South China Sea. He didn’t want political leaders or parliament to make decisions that might lead to a nuclear war.
This is the Pentagon’s policy. The Pentagon in Washington is now very strong. A study by Brown University says that the United States has spent a record $5 trillion on wars since 9/11. The result is a million dead in Iraq and 12 million refugees from at least four countries.
In 2009, Obama said he wanted America to make peace in the world without nuclear weapons. But under Obama, more money was spent on nuclear weapons than under any president since the end of the Cold War. A mini nuclear weapon is planned. It is the B61 Model 12. General James Cartwright says that ‘going smaller makes it easier to think about using it.’
The Japanese island of Okinawa has 32 military bases. There have been attacks by the US from these bases against Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Today, the big target is China. The people of Okinawa are close to China culturally and through trade.
In 1959 a US fighter plane crashed into Miyamori School, Okinawa, and killed a number of children.
There are always military aircraft in the sky over Okinawa. They sometimes crash into homes and schools. People cannot sleep, teachers cannot teach.
A very popular Okinawan movement has grown after US troops raped a 12-year-old girl in 1995. It was one of hundreds of crimes. Many of the crimes didn’t come to court. No one in the world really knows but the Okinawa movement is a good example of how ordinary people can begin to win against the military.
The Okinawan movement has elected Takeshi Onaga, Japan’s first governor who is against the bases.
The movement leaders include Fumiko Shimabukuro, aged 87. He is a survivor of the Second World War, when a quarter of Okinawans died in the American invasion. Fumiko and hundreds of others escaped to the beautiful Henoko Bay. Fumiko is now fighting to save the bay. The US wants to destroy the bay to make longer runways for its bombers.
Fumiko Shimabukuro (right) is from Okinawa and she is a survivor of World War Two. She is now fighting to save a bay from US bombers. With her is Eiko Ginoza. Bruno Sorrentino and John Pilger
The Korean island of Jeju is across the East China Sea. It is a World Heritage Site and ‘an island of world peace’. On this island of world peace there is a military base, less than 400 miles (650 kilometres) from Shanghai. In the fishing village of Gangjeong there is a South Korean naval base. It is for US aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and destroyers with a missile system aimed at China.
For almost ten years there has been a people’s movement against these preparations for war. Every day, often twice a day, villagers, Catholic priests, and supporters from all over the world have a religious mass that blocks the gates of the base.
Father Mun Jeong-hyeon is one of the leaders. He told me, ‘I sing four songs every day at the base. I sing in all weathers. To build this base, they destroyed the environment, and the life of the villagers. We must protest. They want to rule the Pacific. They want China to be alone in the world. They want to rule the world.’
Father Mun Jeong-hyeon is a South Korean and a Catholic priest. Every day he leads a protest against the naval base that the US will use to target China. Bruno Sorrentino and John Pilger
I met Lijia Zhang, a Beijing journalist. She grew up during the terrible Cultural Revolution and has lived in the US and Europe. She said that many Americans think that Chinese people have a sad life with no freedom. They do not understand that 500 or 600 million people are coming out of poverty.
China today: a tourist takes a photo in front of Shanghai’s Bund hotel covered in communist flags. Bruno Sorrentino and John Pilger
She said the Chinese now have more money. China is now one of the most unequal societies in the world. There are lots of protests now. Officials are taking land for businesses. But farmers understand their rights better. And young factory workers are asking for more money and better working conditions.
The world is moving east
The house in Shanghai where Mao and his comrades started the Communist Party of China in 1921 is now in the centre of a very capitalist shopping district. You walk out of this communist house with your Little Red Book and your plastic Mao into Starbucks, Apple, Cartier, and Prada.
Would Mao be shocked? I don’t think so. Five years before his great revolution in 1949, he sent this secret message to Washington. ‘China must be industrial’ he wrote. ‘This can only be free enterprise. Chinese and American interests fit together, economically and politically. America need not fear that we will not be co-operative. We cannot risk any conflict.’
Mao offered to meet Franklin Roosevelt in the White House, and Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower. They did not reply to him. The opportunity was lost that might have changed history, stopped wars in Asia, and saved many lives. This was because of the Cold War.
Eric Li is a Shanghai businessman and social scientist. He told me, ‘I make the joke: in America you can change political parties, but you can’t change the policies. In China you cannot change the party, but you can change policies. The political changes in China in the past 66 years are possibly bigger than we can remember in any other large country.’
Beijing journalist and outspoken maverick, Lijia Zhang.
There are difficulties for people like workers from the countryside who do not share China’s new wealth but there is a lot of optimism.
The world is moving east; but the West does not really understand. The ‘New Silk Road’ is trade, ports, pipelines, and high-speed trains all the way to Europe. China is the world’s leader in rail technology. It is talking with 28 countries about routes on which trains will travel at up to 400 kilometres an hour. This is bringing China and Russia together and they are doing it without ‘us’ in the West.
We – or many of us – are still in the power of the US. The US has taken a violent part in the affairs of a third of the members of the United Nations. It has destroyed governments, played a part in elections, and made blockades. In the past five years, the US has sent deadly weapons to 96 countries, most of them poor. Dividing societies in order to control them is The policy of the US is to divide societies to control them, for example in Iraq and Syria.
Protesters on Jeju, South Korea. Bruno Sorrentino and John Pilger
This is Americanism. It wants us to believe its ideas are right and many believe it
The coming war on China
The film website for John Pilger’s film is: thecomingwarmovie.com