The End of Avoidance

I think we can safely conclude that the Chinese military is no longer being guided by the philosophy of Tao Guang Yang Hui, or “to hide one’s capabilities and bide one’s time.”

The Chinese-made historical war epic The Battle at Lake Changjin, which focuses on a major battle in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53), will debut in Chinese theaters on Thursday. The film is expected to be China’s highest grossing film of the year.

As the most expensive film in Chinese film history with a budget of over 1.3 billion yuan ($201 million), the film was filmed through the joint effort of four Chinese heavyweight filmmakers, directors Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine), Lam Chiu-Yin (Operation Red Sea) and Tsui Hark (The Taking of Tiger Mountain) and executive producer Huang Jianxin (The Founding of a Republic).

As the two directors from Hong Kong, Lam and Tsui pointed out that as Chinese, they needed to understand why “we fought this war and how we won.”

“We put a lot of shots of the US military in the film because this was a battle between China and the US. The US military is not an abstract symbol, but the army of a country. After World War II, the US military was very strong, making them believe they could control the world situation. However, when the war began, they did not expect that the power of China would be so great, and that Chinese power was what they had to learn. In order to maintain the authenticity of the war, we needed to feature the US military’s response,” Tsui told the Global Times.

Subtle. As a general rule, it’s a reliably ominous sign when your potential enemy begins making propagandistic war films that feature you as the bad guy. There is a reason that for decades, every Hollywood movie has featured white Europeans, preferably with English accents, as the bad guys, to the point that they’re still trying to cram Nazis into every film 76 years after the end of National Socialism.