With all eyes trained on unstable world leaders with worrisome caches of unconventional weapons, no one noticed when the meaningless words of an ignorant child inadvertently sparked the Third World War.

So opens the first chapter of the history book penned by the unmutated inhabitants of the post-apocalyptic dystopia known as New Earth.

The incredible tale has been passed down from elder to young, becoming ever more incredible with each telling.

They say it started with a throwaway skit on a talk show called Jimmy Kimmel Live!.

Most of those words are meaningless now, but, to hear the elders tell it, they were pretty meaningless back then too.

A young child was asked by the show's host how the United States (Old Earth name for New China) should resolve its debt to China.

"Kill everyone in China," the child responds and the host moves on.

[There was a video here]

But Chinese-Americans refused to move on, and soon there were vociferous protests with signs presciently comparing the host to the instigator of a previous World War.

Tens of thousands signed a petition calling on the United States government to release a formal response denouncing the show and its host — a statement it was eventually forced to issue.

And the South China Morning Post kept the heat on by publishing article after article after article covering the increasing vitriol surrounding the uninformed remark of a grade schooler.

ABC, the "television network" responsible for producing the show, tried to assuage the mob by apologizingtwice — for offending the Chinese community.

And the host himself even recorded a mea culpa, insisting he didn't agree with a statement made by a six-year-old concerning the genocide of millions.

But the fury refused to abate, and ultimately escalated to the point that China's Foreign Ministry demanded that ABC apologize yet again — this time with feeling.

"ABC should face up to its mistake and respond with a sincere attitude to the reasonable demands by Chinese people in America, and prevent a similar incident from occurring again," Qin Gang told reporters during a press briefing covered by China's state media.

For his part, the host appeared nonplussed by the noise that his seemingly innocuous segment incited, but, at the same time, also appeared willing to egg his detractors on.

"Well, in America we have the freedom of the press," the host told a Chinese journalist. "If they want to waste their money suing me, I’d recommend they don’t do that. But that’s their choice."

It's unknown who finally launched the missile that set the atmosphere on fire, but, if the elders are to be believed, it was a snot-nosed brat named Braxton who fired the first shot.

[screengrab via Kimmel, photo via KTVU]