Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian is making remarks at a press briefing on Feb. 24. Photo: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Chinese diplomats were once known for their conservative, low profile in China and world affairs. Internationally our diplomats were considered enigmatic, and Chinese people were called “inscrutable.” It was a time of much less adversity or need to fend off inordinate criticisms from the glorious West.
But the world and Chinese diplomats have changed. In some Westerners’ eyes, Chinese diplomats are using “Wolf Warrior” style diplomacy, named after the 2015 patriotic action film and its 2017 sequel. This seemingly has made the West feel challenged.
Those Western people said the tone of Chinese diplomats has become increasingly more strident and combative. China’s foreign ministry spokespersons Zhao Lijian and Hua Chunying have taken to Twitter to defend China and hit back against unwarranted criticisms from the US-led West, especially amid the current global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Chinese ambassadors in various countries have also spoken up against groundless accusations launched by the West.
Since the very start of the coronavirus outbreak, the West has spared no effort in smearing China’s virus fight and its cooperation with other countries and world organizations. Compared to the belligerence and antagonism of Western media and politicians, Chinese diplomats’ pushback seems utmost restrained. To a large extent, Chinese diplomacy is still defense-inclined.
As China rises and walks close to center stage of the world, facilitated by the relative decline of the West, many Western countries are feeling uncomfortable, which is behind their unwarranted accusations against China. In the eyes of Westerners, China is not behaving as humbly as it once did. The West believes it occupies the high moral ground and only it can point a finger at others who it deems submissive, which reflects the West’s deep-rooted, self-centered mind-set.
The days when China can be put in a submissive position are long gone. China’s rising status in the world, requires it to safeguard its national interests in an unequivocal way. After all, what’s behind China’s perceived “Wolf Warrior” style diplomacy is the changing strengths of China and the West. When the West falls short of its ability to uphold its interests, it can only resort to a hysterical hooligan style diplomacy in an attempt to maintain its waning dignity. As Western diplomats fall into disgrace, they are getting a taste of China’s “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy.
Moreover, as Chinese diplomacy increasingly reflects the interests of its people, they have become more astute in diplomatic affairs. They are no longer satisfied with a flaccid diplomatic tone.
Some claim that China is abandoning its principle of “hiding its ability and biding its time” which it stuck to over the past 30 years. The “Wolf Warrior” style of diplomacy doesn’t contradict this principle, it’s just less subtle. The reasoning behind this principle was to dilute ideological conflicts and concentrate on development, and China’s national policy has always prioritized economic development. China embraces globalization and multilateral cooperation. The growing influence of China worldwide can be largely attributed to internationalization and the force of markets.
Perhaps the West is wary of China’s “Wolf Warrior” style of diplomacy because it’s not afraid to expose the true face of the West.
The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Wang Wenwen based on an interview with Chu Yin, a professor at the University of International Relations. [email protected]