Main content

The Coming War on China

A nuclear war between the United States and China is not only imaginable but a current 'contingency', says the Pentagon. Filmed over two years across five potential flashpoints in Asia and the Pacific, THE COMING WAR ON CHINA reveals the build-up to war on more than 400 US military bases that encircle China in a 'perfect noose'.

Using rare archive and remarkable interviews with witnesses, Pilger's film discloses America's secret history in the region - the destruction wrought by the equivalent of one Hiroshima every day for 12 years, and the top secret 'Project 4.1' that made guinea pigs of the population of the Marshall Islands.

In key interviews from Pentagon war planners to members of China's confident new political class, who rarely feature in Western reports, Pilger's film challenges the notion and propaganda of China as a new 'enemy'.

THE COMING WAR ON CHINA is also a film about the human spirit and the rise of an extraordinary resistance in faraway places. On the island of Okinawa, home to 32 US bases, the population is challenging the greatest military power in the world. On the Korean island of Jeju, villagers block the entrance to a new nuclear naval base, with its missiles aimed at China.

'A sobering message against war. A powerful call for peace. There are better and more constructive ways of dealing with China's rise than what war mongers and military hawks advocate.' Zhiqun Zhu, Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Bucknell University

'Terrific new film...The Coming War gives the impression we are looking into the past, though its warning is aimed to the future...John Pilger has made yet another enthralling film.' Martin Billheimer, CounterPunch

'Donald Trump is inadvertently doing his darndest to endow John Pilger's eye-opening polemic The Coming War on China with an air of chillingly urgent topicality.' Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter

'This is a must-watch documentary for anyone interested in Sino-US relations. Whether you are for or against the 'China Threat Theory,' you will find it thought-provoking.' Chien-Kai Chen, Assistant Professor of International Studies, Rhodes College

'[Pilger] is fully aware that China has negotiated the best trade deals in the region, that their vast industrialisation has poisoned the planet and sped up global warming, and that their record on human rights is atrocious. Yet shouldn't we be sitting around a table with them to discuss this, rather than pointing weapons of global destruction at them instead?...A very persuasive piece of filmmaking.' John Parker, Entertainment Focus

'The view from China is threatening. 'If you stood on the tallest building in Beijing and looked out of the Pacific Ocean,' James Bradley, author of The China Mirage, tells Pilger, 'you'd see American warships, you'd see Guam is about to sink because there are so many missiles pointed at China. You'd look up at Korea and see American armaments pointing at China, you'd see Japan, which is basically...a glove over the American fist. I think if I was Chinese I'd worry about American aggressiveness.'' Newsweek

'Pilger's argument, supported by the talking heads he interviews, is that China's current military expansion should primarily be understood as a defensive response rather than an aggressive one...The great lunacy of all this, he argues, is that the brinkmanship is driven not by America's defensive needs but by the hunt for profits.' Karl Quinn, Sydney Morning Herald

'Pilger interviews Pentagon war planners, members of China's emerging political class and those resisting the presence of US military bases in South Korea for the film, which suggests that the US is seeking to cut off China's access to oil, gas and other raw materials.' iNews

'Pilger's take on American militarism and its shocking exploitation of Pacific territories such as the Marshall Islands, where the inhabitants were guinea pigs for sustained nuclear weapons tests, is damning.' Craig Mathieson, Brisbane Times

'A gripping film...a strong corrective to our bland and complacent indifference. ****' Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

'(Pilger) remains in the vanguard of journalism, able to eloquently challenge accepted beliefs and in doing so shine a light in corners you suspect other media, who sup from the same trough as those in power, would rather not venture.' Camden Review
'It sounds like alarmist talk, but over the course of his film, his tenacity for research aims to prove it's anything but.' John Noonan, FilmInk

'A sane, sober, necessary, deeply troubling bucketful of worries.' Euan Ferguson, The Guardian

'What makes the ignorant and outdated perception of a so-called yellow peril so absurd is that never before have the economies of two superpowers been so interdependent.' The (London) Times

'His expose of the atrocities still being committed there is just part of this far-reaching documentary about the relationship between the US and China since World War II, in light of recent inflammatory statements made by President Trump. Here are stories apparently left untold by the mainstream news media. ***** Five Stars.' Sun-Herald, Sydney; Sunday Age, Melbourne


Main credits

Pilger, John (screenwriter)
Pilger, John (film director)
Pilger, John (film producer)
Pilger, John (presenter)

Other credits

Editor, Joe Frost; camera, Rupert Binsley [and 3 others]; original music, Joe Frost.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Asian Studies
Foreign Policy, US
Global Issues
International Studies
Pacific Studies
War and Peace


John Pilger, nuclear arms, US China war, resistance, Pentagon, flashpoints, Asia, Pacific, US military bases, encircling China, perfect noose, Project 4.1, Marshall Islands, Bikini atoll, nuclear testing, resistance in Okinawa, Jeju, new naval base, pivot to asia; "The Coming War on China"; Bullfrog Films