China's 'wolf-warrior diplomacy' in Alaska meeting impresses world; behind it is the West-East battle: observers
Published: Mar 25, 2021 03:50 AM
China US Photo: VCG

China US Photo: VCG

The Chinese delegation's sharp counterattack in response to the US side's aggression at the China-US high-level summit in Alaska has gained global attention in recent days. The Chinese delegates' hard-hitting remarks at the talks, though new to their US counterparts and many foreign politicians, seemingly didn't surprise the international community greatly, as observers believe the remarks match China's national strength and international status today.

Some foreign media outlets used the term "wolf-warrior diplomacy" to describe the growing unequivocally resolute and assertive attitudes of Chinese diplomats in defending national interests in recent years. Inside China, the term has been heartily accepted by the public who are happy with seeing the confidence and courage that a major power's diplomacy deserves.

International communities, with divided opinions on China's "wolf-warrior diplomacy" though, tend to regard China's tough stances at the Alaska summit as "a sign that something has changed," commented British scholar Martin Jacques, a senior fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies at Cambridge University.

The arrogant Western world led by the US is no longer eligible to deal with the world's second-largest economy with a condescending attitude. The Alaska talks reflect the fact that "America is in the process of coming to the painful realization that China is now it's equal," Jacques noted.

China brought sincerity to Alaska, seeking for peaceful cooperation at such a moment, only to find a rude Blinken, as well as slanderous smears, so there was no other choice for China [but to fight back], Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

He noted that it is not necessary to call China's tough stance in Alaska a kind of "wolf-warrior" style, because "it is just a normal reaction that a big country should have."

Observers said that behind the standoff are the world's most monumental changes in the past century and the current world structure - the West is losing its leading role, while the developing countries are rising.

'Wolf warriors'

The "wolf-warrior style" opening remarks the Chinese delegation made at the two-day Alaska meetings have come under global scrutiny. "We thought too well of the US… Before the Chinese side, the US side is not qualified to speak to China from a position of strength," remarked Yang Jiechi, a top Chinese diplomat nicknamed "Tiger Yang" by US politicians, in response to the US side's provocation and disregard for diplomatic protocol at the meetings.

German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published an article titled "First meeting: China pokes US's wound" on its official website on March 19. It noted that Chinese diplomats have made it clear that China will not let the US impose its agenda through its words and clearly displayed its assertiveness.

The article titled "A more combative Beijing stands up to Washington" reported by La Vanguardia, Spanish media based in Barcelona on March 20 said Beijing has become increasingly confident in its ability to stand up and push back against the US, as its economy has grown in recent years, fending off American pressure and promoting its own values of international relations.

Moreover, China's success in controlling the pandemic and its recent economic performance, in stark contrast to the collapses suffered by other major powers, further confirms China's institutional strength, as reported.

On social media, users mocked the US for suffering from its own tactlessness which enraged the Chinese side. "I told you this [Chinese side's counterattack] was coming," author and media commentator Mario Cavolo wrote on Twitter on March 19 during the Alaska summit. "China is done tolerating the [US'] reprehensible political hoax accusations and lies."

Meanwhile, some Western media outlets and public opinion leaders were "shocked" by the Chinese side's tough stances. They seemingly didn't expect that once humble, compliant Chinese diplomats would turn into tit-for-tat warriors in response to the US, which their own politicians would seldom do. 

The Washington Post satirized that the Biden White House has gotten its first real taste of China's "wolf-warrior" diplomacy during the summit on March 20.

Bloomberg published an article titled "Chinese Diplomats Aren't Smiling Anymore" on March 20 as they surmised that China has experienced a period of "smile diplomacy" before. The article described Yang Jiechi as a master of what's become known as "Wolf -Warrior" diplomacy.

A few Western opinion leaders were also active in rambling about the Chinese delegation on social media. Gordon G. Chang, an anti-china scholar tweeted during the Alaska talks that the Chinese diplomats "dropped the mask" and turned "arrogant beyond belief." 

"The reason why the Western world feels uncomfortable with 'wolf-warrior diplomacy' is mainly because China refuses to grin and bear it," Li Haidong, a professor of international relations at China Foreign Affairs University told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"In the past, when Western countries interacted with non-Western countries, especially when it came to China, they always adopted a condescending attitude to guide China in how to behave appropriately. However, China now is becoming more decisive and firm in defending its own interests, which makes it hard for them to accept."

"For a long time, the West has had a sense of superiority in their civilization, race, and governance. Western political elites cannot adapt to China's demands for equal communication, so they slapped the label 'wolf warrior diplomacy' on China, which is more like a rush to control public opinion. If it is well not controlled, it will escalate into a political, a social, or even full-scale war," said Li.

Chinese netizens forwarded two pictures on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, which respectively depicted the signing of the unequal Xinchou Treaty (Boxer Protocol) between the Chinese delegation and Western invaders in 1901 and the latest Sino-US Alaska summit.

"The People's Republic of China is no longer the Qing government which was too weak to resist unequal treatment 120 years ago. Chinese diplomats have the confidence to refuse the arrogance of the US with our might," a netizen wrote.

Another commented that "if the US didn't plan to have this talk with sincerity and treat China with basic diplomatic decorum, it's better for the US not to initiate such meetings, which would at least make actual contributions to solving climate change."

'Crazy dogs'

Chinese embassies in at least seven countries - Canada, Australia, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark - are known to have lodged stern representations with local authorities as of Wednesday, shortly after the European Union and several other Western countries imposed sanctions targeting China over alleged human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region.

"Do not play the role of 'a human rights proselytizer' anymore, and do not go further down the wrong path," Tan Jian, envoy to the Netherlands, said in a statement published on the embassy's website on Wednesday. "China never provokes, but will never back down from provocations," said Ambassador Wu Ken in Germany, calling on Europe to correct its missteps that would be increasingly detrimental to mutual trust and bilateral cooperation.

Chinese diplomats have been firmly fighting against the attacks and baseless accusations by some Western forces against China. "Diplomacy is about defending the interests and image of one's country," said an article published on the Chinese embassy in France on March 21, noting that if China's national interests and image are threatened or harmed, Chinese diplomats will naturally defend them tooth and nail.

"If someone labels us with the term 'wolf-warriors,' we are, therefore, 'wolf warriors' who fight against many fierce 'crazy dogs,' including the 'crazy dogs' who furiously attack China under the disguise of so-called scholars and media outlets," said the article titled "A democratic discussion on freedom of speech."

There are people who hope Chinese diplomacy might transform into a "lamb-style" diplomacy that silently puts up with attacks, the article said. "Those days are long gone," it remarked.

"China just expresses its displeasure clearly and firmly when the West violates our core interests recklessly, but such a voice makes the West feel attacked, so they flagrantly malign using terms like 'wolf-warrior diplomacy' in vain as an attempt to respond to China's rise, and try to muffle the voices of their imaginary enemies," Shen Yi, a professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University told the Global Times. 

Shen pointed out that this clamor is still a projection of the condescending mentality of the colonial suzerainty a century ago, and reflects the West's fear of China's peaceful rise.

"These countries are used to being robbers and only have the experience and mindset of being robbers. The so-called "diplomatic standard" in their eyes is to satisfy the West, and they narrowly believe that any country that becomes strong will follow the same old path of bullying the weak in their path," Shen said.

China's diplomatic team has been active in clarifying the rumors fabricated by the West and pushing back forcefully on issues related to Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and even external affairs such as Myanmar.

Western politicians and media should understand that China is not the same China a hundred years ago, said Lü. "Though the Western media is still extremely influential in the world today, they can't simply beat facts with their words."

The US and other Western countries should correct their positions and understand that in the current situation, China is not a threat, but comes with peaceful development ideas.