It is important, in understanding conflicts with the People’s Republic of China, to have a fully nuanced grasp of the history and context involved. For instance, it is important to understand the history and context of the demand for history and context, as offered by Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey got himself and the league in trouble by tweeting a brief message of support for the protest movement in Hong Kong.
Tsai brought up the opium wars, the humiliation of the Qing dynasty, and the Rape of Nanjing, among other things, to explain why the “territorial integrity of China and the country’s sovereignty over her homeland” are “non-negotiable.” This is the standard script when the People’s Republic of China wants to weaponize nationalism—every provocation must be considered in the light of all historic provocations.
The script is nonsense. Morey’s tweet, taking the side of Hong Kong protesters against the police, had nothing at all to do with Japanese troops inflicting horror and slaughter on hundreds of thousands of people in Nanjing. The idea that it did was cynicism posing as sophistication—which is to say, the defining attitude in relations between 21st-century China and the institutions that hope to make money there.