Chinese diplomats were once known for their low-key approach in dealing with complex domestic and global issues.(REUTERS)
Chinese diplomats were once known for their low-key approach in dealing with complex domestic and global issues.(REUTERS)

China dismisses ‘Wolf Warrior diplomacy’ charge as akin to ‘China threat’ theory

Chinese diplomats were once known for their low-key approach in dealing with complex domestic and global issues. But their style changed in recent years as Beijing battled increasing global adversity on issues like coronavirus.
Beijing | By Press Trust of India | Posted by Kunal Gaurav
PUBLISHED ON DEC 06, 2020 07:08 PM IST

China has sought to dismiss the use of the term “Wolf Warrior diplomacy”, which is used to describe confrontational rhetoric by its diplomats to ward off criticism on a host of issues, calling it yet another version of “China threat theory” being floated by Beijing’s critics.

Obviously, the “Wolf Warrior diplomacy” is actually another version of the “China threat” theory and another “discourse trap,” whose purpose is to prevent China from fighting back, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said in the first official reaction to the widely-used phrase among international diplomats and media to highlight Beijing’s aggressive posturing.

Chinese diplomats were once known for their low-key approach in dealing with complex domestic and global issues. But their style changed in recent years as Beijing battled increasing global adversity on issues like coronavirus, which became a pandemic after emerging from Wuhan, allegations of mass internment camps in Xinjiang and imposition of national security law in Hong Kong.

Critics also say the change in style is fuelled by the pursuance of aggressive nationalism by the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) under the leadership of President Xi Jinping. Le said that as a responsible major country, China has always been a defender of the international order, a contributor to global governance and a provider of international public goods.

It was a time when there seemed to be less inordinate criticism from the West. But the world and Chinese diplomats have changed, a write up in the CPC’s aggressive tabloid Global Times said.

“In some Westerners’ eyes, Chinese diplomats are now engaged in ‘Wolf Warrior’ style diplomacy, named after a 2015 Chinese patriotic action film and its 2017 sequel. The change seemingly has made the West feel challenged,” it said.

The term was coined from the 2017 Hollywood Rambo style Chinese action film “Wolf Warrior 2”.

Le, a former Ambassador to India, dismissed such labels as misunderstanding China’s diplomacy, stressing that China has always been a country of etiquette, valuing harmony, and never taking the initiative to provoke others, nor running to the door of another’s house to pick a quarrel.

“China has no choice but to stand up in defence of our national interests and dignity, as others have come to our door and meddle in our internal affairs and abuse us,” Le was quoted as saying by the official media here while addressing a think-tank forum on Saturday.

Le said the allegation by some people that China has made enemies all around the world with aggressive diplomacy is not true.

“We have always made friends and forged good relationships. It is precisely certain big countries which have pressured other countries to take sides with ‘my way or no way’ choice. But even under such circumstance, China’s ‘circle of friends’ is not getting smaller but bigger”, he said.

“Many developing countries and friendly people have resisted the pressure and continued to cooperate with China and spoken out in support of China on international occasions,” he said.

This week, outgoing US National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe has said China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II.

“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published on Thursday in The Wall Street Journal.

“Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party. I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,’“ Ratcliffe said.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying dismissed the allegations as a further move to spread “false information, political viruses and lies” in hopes of damaging China’s reputation and China-US relations.

“It offered nothing new but repeated the lies and rumours aimed at smearing China and playing up the China threat by any means,” Hua said at a daily briefing on Friday. “It’s another hodgepodge of lies being produced by the relevant departments of the US government for some time,” she said.

Last month, another Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian while rebutting joint statement by Five Eyes countries criticising China’s top legislature to disqualify four pro-democracy lawmakers of Hong Kong, said: “No matter how many ‘eyes’ you have, be careful not to be poked and get blind by harming China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.” The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US.

Commenting on the aggressive style of diplomacy of by Chinese diplomats, Wang Xiangwei, a Beijing based columnist of the South China Morning Post, published from Hong Kong said Beijing should be cautious not to enter US trap.

“Indeed, as the Chinese foreign ministry and official media consistently paint Washington’s moves and rhetoric as irrational, reckless and bordering on unhinged, that gives Beijing the reason to refrain from doing the same to the US”, he wrote in one his columns recently.

“There is also a growing suspicion that Washington is laying a trap and deliberately provoking Beijing to react irrationally for the sake of its domestic politics”, he said.

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