China has damaged its international image with its aggressive “wolf warrior” bullying, which is alienating it from much of the world.
Facing fierce international criticism over its increasingly bellicose conduct on many issues, including Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong, as well as its unabated threats against Taiwan, the cover-up of the spread of COVID-19 from Wuhan and its expansionist designs in the South China Sea to name a few, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) recently offered a rare mea culpa when he said that it was necessary to improve Beijing’s tone when communicating to a global audience, as it raises its “international voice” in keeping with its growing status as the world’s second-largest economy.
“We must pay attention to grasp the tone, be both open and confident, but also [be] modest and humble, and strive to create a credible, lovable and respectable image of China,” Xi told a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) study meeting.
If the brilliant Dale Carnegie were alive, he would have probably handed over to the Chinese president a copy of his bestselling book How to Win Friends and Influence People.
However, For Xi it is more than just making friends — he is, apparently, more interested in having a strategic foothold, particularly in countries that continue to do heavy trading and business with China even though they frown at its repressive character.
A communique from this month’s G7 summit has, obviously, upset the Chinese leadership, although it professes to seek to repair relations with key Western powers, including the US.
China needs to move away from the brash, aggressive and often insulting tone against foreign leaders as part of its “wolf warrior” diplomacy that has been recklessly smashing the diplomatic porcelain in many countries.
It will not be easy for China to refurbish its image. It has also been treating other nations shabbily, including those that are now in China’s orbit of influence because of heavy debts and financial dependence.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not mince words when he criticized China’s aggressive actions abroad and how it is acting “increasingly in adversarial ways.”
Public opinion about China in many Western countries has been unfavorable. A survey last year in 14 countries — including the US, the UK, Germany and Canada — by the Pew Research Center found that “unfavorable views” of China were prevalent. Respondents were critical of China’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, China has experienced a string of setbacks in the international arena. The G7 summit, for instance, was highly critical of China on a number of issues, particularly Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the Taiwan Strait.
The latest report by Amnesty International on the harsh treatment of Xinjiang’s Uighur population, describing its treatment as “dystopian bellicose,” will add to the ammunition of the large numbers of China critics around the world. Xi had hoped that the rupture created by former US president Donald Trump’s divisive transatlantic politics would enable China to further drive the wedge in the Western camp.
However, US President Joe Biden demonstrated that he could unite the other G7 partners in taking a stand against China’s aggressive global designs. The warm reception that Biden received at the G7, the EU and NATO repudiated thinking within the CCP that the West’s unity was falling apart and opening up opportunities for China to exploit the situation.
A large part of the G7 summit was dedicated to exchanging views on how to check China’s growing aggressive behavior around the world. The unfavorable China-related part of the G7 summit could not have come at a worse time for Xi, who has been rehearsing to present himself as the “people’s great leader” at the CCP’s 100th anniversary celebrations.
The G7 results might also prompt Xi’s rivals to raise critical questions on the global setbacks suffered by China.
Optics at the G7 summit were not favorable for China, which was cast in a poor light. The communique disproved the perception within the CCP that the US and its Western allies are in a state of decline. This notion was originally fed and nourished by some CCP senior members after the 2008 financial crisis.
Trump’s election win and his alienation from traditional US allies had led the CCP to believe that the Western camp was in complete disarray, and it was time to step in and fill in the breach.
This, as it turns out, was a miscalculation.
Even before the G7 summit, things were not moving according to China’s playbook. It had already suffered a major setback in early spring when the EU, reacting to the persecution of Uighurs in Xinjiang, decided to put on hold a trade agreement that had been painstakingly knitted together and was ready to be signed.
China retaliated by imposing sanctions against members of the European Parliament.
The communique snubs China by expressing support for Taiwan, underscoring the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Xi and the CCP faction that supports him had believed, until then, that the West had placed Taiwan on the back burner and that the nation was destined to join the mainland.
Indeed, as Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said, this is the first time since Taiwan’s founding that there has been such a communique with “content friendly to Taiwan,” and Taiwan and the G7 member states share basic values such as democracy, freedom and human rights.
This part of the G7 communique has angered some elements of the CCP, which has stepped up its pressure against Taiwan in the past few months with regular military drills near the nation.
China faces a unified G7 and NATO on the issue, and will have to carefully weigh its options before embarking on any misadventure against Taiwan.
China will realize that its belligerent posturing has unified the world’s most important nations against it, and strengthened their resolve to fight its aggressive rhetoric and actions. China will have to reset its course and abandon its so-called “wolf warrior” diplomacy if it wants to be “credible, lovable and respectable.”
Manik Mehta is a New York-based journalist who writes extensively on foreign affairs, diplomacy, global trade and economics.
The small Baltic nation of Lithuania last week announced that it would accept a Taiwanese representative office in its capital, Vilnius, and that it would establish its own trade office in Taiwan by the end of the year. This was more than a welcome announcement to Taiwan and goes far beyond the normal establishment of trade relations. Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis summed it up succinctly, boldly saying: “Freedom-loving people should look out for each other.” With these words, Landsbergis was purposefully going beyond normal diplomacy; he was also presenting a moral challenge and reminder to other democratic nations. A look
Having deceived the world about its nuclear capabilities while preparing for an arms race, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now using its increasing nuclear forces for virtual nuclear coercion. This new threat will continue until the United States, Japan, and Taiwan can restore the CCP’s sense of fear. This dynamic is a familiar one for Taiwan. As the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) capabilities have grown, its inhibitions about conducting larger and more frequent coercive military demonstrations have shrunk. The PLA now more openly practices for the destruction of Taiwan’s democracy and the murder of its citizens. In the nuclear realm,
The Tokyo Olympics will perhaps be remembered as one of the oddest Games in the event’s long and checkered history. Held amid a global pandemic, spectators are banned from most venues, leaving athletes to play out their feats of sporting brilliance in eerie silence. Meanwhile, furious Tokyo residents wave placards outside some venues, calling for the Games’ cancelation. Adding to the incongruity of it all, the entire Russian team is absent, banned due to a doping scandal. That the Tokyo Olympics went ahead at all has been extremely contentious in Japan. Critics fear a mass outbreak of the highly contagious Delta
On a peaceful day in the open Pacific Ocean to the east of Taiwan, a US carrier and five accompanying warships were slowly sailing to guard the western Pacific. Another carrier battle group had just returned to its home port in San Diego. Suddenly, alarms went off as many intercontinental ballistic missiles were launched from the interior of China, flying toward Taiwan. Numerous Chinese warships, carriers, fighter jets, bombers and submarines were fast converging on the US ships. Not too long after, missiles, bombs and torpedoes were fired at the US carrier. The surprise to Americans was the number of