President Xi Jinping told his party leaders that China should seek to become “humble, credible, lovable and respectable," is nothing more than rhetoric to divert international public opinion (Pic: Courtesy qz.com)
President Xi Jinping's recent call for Communist Party leaders to make China "more lovable" is a red herring. It does not mean China is backtracking on its in-your-face Wolf Warrior diplomatic style. In fact, China will continue with its assertive, aggressive and abrasive posturing that its mandarins have adopted since 2020, revealed a top Chinese diplomat.
"In the eyes of the westerners, our diplomacy is on the offensive and aggressive, but the truth is, it is they who are on the offensive and aggressive," Lu Shaye, China's envoy to France, said in an interview with the Chinese government-run digital media platform. "What we are doing is merely a justified defence to protect our rights and interests," he said.
When President Xi Jinping told his party leaders that China should seek to become “humble, credible, lovable and respectable," many observers initially welcomed the pronouncement as a possible shift away from the internationally notorious "wolf warrior diplomacy." Xi emphasised the need to make friends, unite and win over the majority, and constantly expand the circle of friends and reach out to the rest of the world. Apparently, this was nothing more than rhetoric to divert international public opinion to plateau the negative image China had earned during Covid-19 and the brutal crackdown in Hong Kong.
Chinese diplomats tend to argue that their attitude is necessary to defend national honour and dignity and refute all criticism targeting China. China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming had said – “where there is a ‘wolf’, there should be a ‘warrior’. This aggressive diplomacy is a product of the rise of charismatic politics and erosion of collective leadership in favour of a cult personality around Xi Jinping.
Since 2020, Chinese diplomats have taken to firing verbal salvos on social media sites banned in China such as Twitter and Facebook, at the United States and other countries seen as acting against China's interest.
Lu said China's previous diplomatic style of "hide your strength and bide your time", attributed to former leader Deng Xiaoping, was necessary at the time because the country had neither the need nor the strength to do otherwise. Now that China had grown stronger, and with the West "bent on suppressing its growth", China must shift its diplomatic style to that of "making a difference", Lu said in the interview given to local state-run media.
China’s diplomats have been asked to defend the indefensible in recent times, from Beijing’s atrocities on minorities on Uyghurs and its hyper-militaristic foreign policy against its neighbours including India to the mishandling of the Covid-19 outbreak. It is highly unlikely that Xi Jinping will give up its regional and global aspirations, which have resulted in an aggressive foreign policy posturing.
In all likelihood, Chinese diplomats will continue with their aggressive rhetoric as China’s expansive foreign policy ambitions will continue to bring it into a confrontation with its neighbours and other major powers. No wonder, seeking a “lovable” China is wolf in sheep’s clothing.