China Politely Asks US Government to Read a History Book

Beijing says Washington needs to brush up on its history. Hard to argue with that.

It was Edmund Burke who once quipped that "those who don't know history are doomed to start a third world war with China."

Reading is good for you
Reading is good for you

We can now all agree that these are prophetic words from one of Ireland's most celebrated nerds. But sadly, it seems that Washington isn't familiar with the works of Burke, or books in general.

During his Senate confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared with a great deal of undeserved confidence that Beijing should not be allowed access to islands it has built there. Why? Because it is America's job to protect "international territories."

International, eh?

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi shot back with a polite suggestion:

In comments carried on the foreign ministry's website late on Tuesday, Wang said he had a "suggestion" for this American friends. "Brush up on the history of World War Two," Wang was quoted as saying during a visit to Canberra, Australia.

The 1943 Cairo Declaration and 1945 Potsdam Declaration clearly state that Japan had to return to China all Chinese territory taken by Japan, Wang said.

"This includes the Nansha Islands," he added, using China's name for the Spratly Islands.

"In 1946, the then-Chinese government with help from the United States openly and in accordance with the law took back the Nansha Islands and reefs that Japan had occupied, and resumed exercising sovereignty," Wang said.

"Afterwards, certain countries around China used illegal methods to occupy some of the Nansha islands and reefs, and it's this that created the so-called South China Sea dispute."

As we wrote last week, Trump's chief strategist remarked (to be fair, several months before the election) that the U.S. would eventually have to fight a war with China.

How would Washington defend a completely unnecessary war with China, over a sea named after China? For starters, the history books would have to be rewritten, or done away with entirely.