Bart Simpson an agent of oppression? He
is to the legions of Chinese slave laborers, forced to churn out cheap licensed
merchandise in work camps. Such
involuntary servitude is one of China’s greatest competitive advantages in the
global marketplace. Peter Navarro
ominously warns America about the dangers of Chinese economic hegemony in the
alarmist yet still highly alarming documentary, Death by China (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.
Navarro’s credit, DBC repeatedly
distinguishes between the decent hardworking Chinese people and their
oppressive Communistic government, often reminding viewers the former is the
greatest victim of the latter. To this
end, they enlist no less an authority than former dissident and Chinese Gulag
inmate Harry Wu. Any film featuring Wu
is worth our attention.
DBC raises some salient human rights
issues, its primary message is one of economic protectionism. Adapting his book of the same title for the
screen, Navarro blames China’s predatory export subsidies for the drastic outsourcing
of the American manufacturing base. We
hear this echoed by several union leaders, whose rigid contracts and outright
featherbedding have spurred the very outsourcing they bemoan.
the film is on solid ground when it discusses the lack of environmental protection
and consumer product safety regulation in China. Indeed, many innocent Chinese citizens are
living with the toxic pollution released from the production of export-goods
toxic to American end-consumers. It also
makes a strong national security argument when it points out how much of our
technologically advanced weaponry is assembled with parts made in China. In fact, given what we know or suspect about
the Stuxnet virus, the film might actually underplay this line of inquiry.
know DBC is well researched when it
sites an article published in The Epoch Times. Shrewdly, it also maintains a
legitimately bipartisan spirit, equally blaming Clinton and a Republican
congress for supporting China’s entry into the WTO (the original sin in Navarro’s
judgment) and featuring interview segments with members of both parties,
including longtime human rights champion Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ).
his ideological baggage though, the choice of Martin Sheen as narrator might
drive away some that might otherwise be receptive to its message. However, the greatest problem with the film
is the wildly over the top interstitial animation. The bleeding American flags will just make it
too easy for my snooty colleagues to dismiss the film wholesale.
In fact, DBC
is not nearly as simplistic as those transitional graphics might
suggest. Whether or not you accept the
pseudo-protectionist premise, the sheer volume of American debt held by China
is a problem the current administration has done its best to ignore. Recommended for its human rights content and
for simply challenging our national policy of China denial during an election
year, the earnest but sometime overheated Death
By China opens this Friday (8/24) in New York at the Quad Cinema.
Labels: China, Documentary, Harry Wu