'Pacific Rim' called American propaganda in China

Claudine Zap
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Truth could be stranger than fiction: A Chinese army officer is denouncing the movie “Pacific Rim” as American propaganda, reports the news site China.org. The sci-fi blockbuster is about … robots.

According to China.org, in an op-ed for the People’s Liberation Army Daily, Zhang Jieli asserts, "The decisive battle against the monsters was deliberately set in South China Sea adjacent to Hong Kong.” He added, "The intention was to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to maintaining stability in the Asia-Pacific area and saving the mankind."

The monster flick depicts countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean that join forces to fight giant creatures called Kaijus that rise up from the ocean floor to attack humans.

Written and directed by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, the summer film has grossed almost $400 million worldwide, including $106.2 million in China, where it topped the box office for the past three weeks. In fact, the monster vs. robots movie has done better in China than the United States, where it has grossed over $99 million so far.

But the success is probably more due to its entertainment, not propaganda value.

Rotten Tomatoes called it a “solid modern creature feature bolstered by fantastical imagery and an irresistible sense of fun.”

According to Voice of America, Zhang was referring to the “Obama administration's ‘pivot’ to East Asia, under which the U.S. plans to move 60 percent of its naval assets to the Pacific by 2020. Many in Beijing view the move as a U.S. attempt to contain China, despite assurances from Washington this is not the case.”

Zhang claimed in the opinion piece that U.S. movies have “always served as a propaganda machine to convey American values and their strategies in the world."

China is certainly watching plenty of movies, many of them American: China has become the world’s second largest box office market after the United States.

The country even agreed last year to relax its strict quotas of American movie imports, which previously had been only 20 a year. It has now increased the number to 34 with the promise that the additional movies be in Imax or 3D format — movies such as “Pacific Rim.”