At a time when public opinion toward China has turned more negative, Beijing has indicated that there will be no let-up in the so-called Wolf Warrior assertive brand of diplomacy during the third term of Xi Jinping as President, despite criticism that the approach has been counterproductive.
“We, Chinese, will not capitulate. We will not sit and do nothing while our country’s interests are being harmed,” Reuters reported Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu as saying while responding to a question on Beijing’s diplomacy in the decade since Xi assumed power.
As China sees itself stuck in an ideological battle of global dominance with the West, Beijing’s brand of diplomacy won’t be about playing nice.
With Beijing under attack for issues ranging from Taiwan and trade to human rights and COVID-19, Chinese diplomats have adopted an offensive and confrontational stance on public platforms and social media, a behavior that has become popularly known as “wolf warrior diplomacy,” named after two nationalistic Chinese movies.
“Going forward, Chinese diplomats will continue to overcome all obstacles, and always be the devoted guardians of the interests of our country and our people,” Ma said.
Vice Foreign Minister Ma is widely considered a top contender to replace Wang Yi as foreign minister in an upcoming leadership reshuffle.
At the five-yearly 20th congress of the Chinese Communist Party beginning Oct. 16 in Beijing, Xi Jinping is expected to get an unprecedented third term as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, meaning he will remain president of China.
In practicing its foreign policy, China has been long guided by Deng Xiaoping’s doctrine to “Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile, and never claim leadership.”
However, according to experts, a shift in Beijing’s foreign policy stance began slowly building in 2008-2009 and accelerated after Xi Jinping came to office in 2012-2013.
Addressing the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party held in October 2017, Xi sought to set a new agenda for a bold new era, saying Beijing would not shy away from assuming world leadership.
Since then, Chinese officials have more openly expressed controversial thoughts, often with negative ramifications for bilateral relations with other countries. According to a global survey by the Pew Research Center released Wednesday, ever since Xi took office in 2013, public opinion of China in the U.S. and other advanced economies has turned “precipitously more negative.”