Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), made a special speech to his overseas system on Monday, telling them to “grasp the tone” and “be humble and modest” and to “be tactful and artistic in the struggle for public opinion “The government’s efforts to improve the “persuasive power of Chinese discourse” have been met with a lot of enthusiasm. Analysts say that Xi is apparently not effective in promoting foreign affairs to the big foreign propaganda system, and diplomats are not good at diplomacy, which not only does not give China more points but also causes discontent.
On May 31, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held its thirtieth “collective study” on strengthening China’s international communication capacity, and the thrust of Xi Jinping’s speech was to form an “international discourse that matches China’s comprehensive national power and international status”. Professor Zhang Weiwei of Fudan University gave a special lecture on the subject and “made suggestions for work.
According to reports, since the launch of China’s “Great Foreign Propaganda Program” in 2009, a huge foreign election system has been formed around the world, which is estimated to cost tens of billions of dollars annually. However, the effect of the big foreign propaganda is not good, and even ‘Dovey’, which is also considered to be part of the big foreign propaganda system, commented: “But what is out of proportion to the high investment is that the output of foreign propaganda is really embarrassing, and is often criticized, and even ridiculed as a corpse. Not to mention providing public opinion on the rise of China internationally, but to enhance and improve the perception of China in overseas societies, are not satisfactory.”
Zhang Wei’s advice for the Politburo
But can the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo provide a boost by asking Zhang Weiwei to give classes to various Politburo members on the big foreign propaganda policy? This is a professor who is seen by many as equally anti-American as Jin Canrong who scolds the West for defying all odds to advocate Chinese self-confidence. Some of his speeches are embarrassing to the academic community, for example, he said that “New York is more like the Third World” compared to Shanghai, Beijing and Dalian, and he also bet that China never has economic crises, and that the U.S. economic crisis needs China to help, and he hopes that next time he will not come to beg China, etc. He described U.S.-China relations this way: “The good thing is that our Chinese leaders have experienced the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, and we know how to deal with hooligans.”
Some analysts say that Zhang Weiwei’s political views and international outlook are highly consistent with Xi Jinping’s. What good ideas Zhang Weiwei can come up with for Xi Jinping this time is not yet known. Xinhua reported Xi Jinping’s main speech at this meeting, and from the speech, it is clear that the top CCP authorities are aware that China’s image is very problematic internationally. From Xi’s request, it seems to refer to the ineffective propaganda of the Great Foreign Propaganda on the one hand, and his dissatisfaction with the opposite effect brought by the War Wolf style on the other hand, his passage is very relevant. “We should focus on grasping the tone, both open and confident as well as humble and modest, and strive to shape a credible, lovely and respectable image of China”, which is simply a bit of an earworm.
War wolves stirred up trouble?
The target of Xi Jinping’s Politburo speech is the entire foreign propaganda system, the official media, the Confucius Institute, the Foreign Ministry, the emissaries sent outside, etc. In fact, the latter plays a greater role or the opposite role, and the expressions of some Chinese diplomats on international occasions, sometimes very vicious, are called the war wolf style. If Xi Jinping thinks that China’s international discourse does not quite match China, it has something to do with the war wolves he sends significant.
To cite just a few examples, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian wanted to poke the five-eye alliance, but the U.S., Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand were not afraid of the five countries, and the impact was bad; the ambassador to France tweeted that a French scholar, Antoine Bondaz, who criticized China was a “hooligan,” and the consul general in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Li Yang, tweeted a picture of Trudeau and called him a “hooligan. The consul general in Rio de Janeiro, Li Yang, tweeted a picture of Trudeau and called him an “American lapdog” and a “loser”.
The Chinese government has asked them not only to master the tone of their speeches, to be confident and modest, but also, and more importantly, to “promote the globalization, regionalization and diversification of the expression of China’s story and voice” and to “make friends, unite and win over the majority, and constantly expand the circle of friends who know China and are friendly to China. The circle of international public opinion friends who know China and are friendly with it.”
Xi considers this issue serious and wants “the main comrade in charge to both personally grasp and personally do it.” Xi raised this to the level of “safeguarding the dignity and image of the Party and the state.”
Ursula Gauthier, a reporter for the French weekly ‘Le Nouvel Observateur’ based in Beijing, tweeted that Xi had blown the whistle on his war-wolf diplomats, so stop fooling around! “It is important to grasp the tone, both open and confident as well as humble and modest.” Gao Jie asked: Can we see an apology from the Chinese Embassy in France to Bondaz?
The Chinese Embassy in France described the scholar as a “hooligan” because of his criticism of Beijing, which surprised the French public, especially the ambassador of a big country, who could say such a vulgar language to tarnish the country’s image.
Some analysts think that Chinese diplomats can’t be blamed for frequently staging war wolf shows, which are, frankly speaking, all for the sake of political future, not to show to the central government, and whoever scolds fiercely and plays well can be promoted and rewarded. From the perspective of Xi Jinping’s speech, the big foreign propaganda system may have over-performed.