Chinese diplomatic war wolves, who inspire their compatriots by ranting against the West, are “bouncing back” to hit themselves: the most radical nationalist forces in domestic public opinion are bidding against them, said an AFP wire from Beijing on June 29.
With the restoration of great power status, some Chinese diplomats have not hesitated in recent months to use insulting language or wield conspiracy theories to justify the communist regime, the article says.
They have targeted the United States, a powerful rival, neighboring countries such as India and Japan, countries in trouble with Beijing such as Australia and Canada, and the West in general, and the Western media in particular, which is considered “systematically anti-China.
These new diplomats are jokingly called “war wolves,” after the name of a Chinese action movie, AFP said.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman tweeted last year that the coronavirus (Covid-19) may have been introduced to China by U.S. military personnel at a sporting event.
The War Wolf label was even claimed by Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shano, who told the daily newspaper Quotidien L’Opinion that he was “very honored to be called a War Wolf because there are so many crazy hyenas (hyènes folles) attacking China.
Trustworthy, lovable and respectable
Has the tide turned, the article says? President Xi Jinping himself earlier this month asked Communist Party leaders and the media to work to “tell the story of China well” and to try to create a “credible, lovable and respectable” image of China.
According to some experts, the Communist regime is aware that it must change its approach in the face of an apparent deterioration in its image abroad, including among potential allies.
Florian Schneider, director of the Centre Asie de Leyde in the Netherlands, said, “Chinese leaders have trapped themselves: on the one hand they promise the world a moderate and benevolent China, and on the other hand they sell a strong and assertive China to domestic public opinion.
Meanwhile, on social networks, a bidding campaign is underway by ultra-nationalists, some of whom attacked a group of scholars called “traitors” for participating in an exchange program with Japan in early June. The government had to intervene, explaining that the purpose of the program was to “strengthen trust and deepen” the friendship between the two neighbors.
Meanwhile, a group of U.S. senators landed in Taiwan with vaccines to inoculate the residents of the island, which Beijing claims as its sovereign. In a reversal of the norm, the Chinese Communist Party leadership reacted with considerable restraint, but on Weibo, China’s main social network, it caused troll-like outrage. One user lashed out, “Why don’t we shoot them down? They’re violating our airspace.” Another decried, “Weakness and incompetence.”
Rockets and cremation
In early May this year, as rival India struggled with the crisis of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, a website linked to the Communist Party of China (CCP) quickly compared the cremation of the bodies of Indian victims of the virus to the successful launch of a Chinese rocket, AFP said.
Even Hu Xijin, the highly nationalistic editor-in-chief of the Global Times, found the comparison distasteful, the article said. He says websites related to the Chinese regime should show “humanity.
Jonathan Hassid, a political scientist at Iowa State University, observed that “sometimes this war-wolf behavior can get out of hand. Because “if China tries to soften its image, nationalists at home get angry. But if it does what they [nationalists] want, then it is the international community that reacts badly to China.”
In Paris, Ambassador Luciano chose to take his own position, telling Chinese official media Observer magazine, “We don’t evaluate our work based on what foreigners think of us, but we do it based on what our country’s people think.”
AFP said the new line of Chinese diplomacy, from the crackdown on Hong Kong to tensions with Taiwan, has so far produced little on the ground.
Adam Ni of the China Policy Center in Canberra said, “The ruling Chinese regime is pursuing conflicting goals. Beijing wants a better international image,” he explains. But both the needs of domestic politics and the need to defend its interests will keep it moving in the opposite direction.”