The Corner

History Through a Glass, Darkly

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reporting from Davos:

Anybody who thinks China’s dispute with Japan is subject to rational calculation should have heard the astonishing outburst a few minutes ago by China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi. “We will never allow past aggressors to overturn the verdict of history,” he began. It went downhill from there.

When asked what he thought about the latest warning by Japan’s leader Shinzo Abe that the two countries are like England and Germany in 1914, he exploded with barely contained rage:

“Why would he make such a statement? Japanese leaders like to rewrite their history, but the Chinese people cannot forget episodes of history. The invasion of Manchuria in 1930 was an infamous chapter in Japan’s history. In 1937 they instigated the Marco Polo bridge incident before launching an all-out onslaught on China.

“Thirty-five million Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed. Who was the instigator? Who was the troublemaker? It is all too clear.”

He turned visceral over Mr Abe’s recent visit to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo: “Even to this day the shrine still advocates that past aggression was justified, that the Pacific War was in self defence. It calls war criminals heroes, even today.

“How can a leader puts flowers on a shrine that violates international principles in this way? Japan’s Class A criminals were likes the Nazis. Can you imagine a European leader laying a wreath at a Nazi memorial?”

China would never, of course, have that sort of shrine, a shrine, say, to a totalitarian dictator, responsible for the deaths of millions, a shrine, say, to such a tyrant, in place, say, on the principal square of its capital city.

Oh wait.