China’s ‘Wolf Warrior’ Diplomacy Has Changed During the Pandemic – Journalist Peter Martin
China’s so-called ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomacy is not a new phenomenon but it has taken on a new dimension over the course of the pandemic, said Bloomberg reporter Peter Martin in a Zoom talk hosted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong.
“Some of China’s strengths have been highlighted; its ability to use its supply chains to produce massive amounts of vaccine and personal protective equipment, and to ship those around the world, kind of plays to a strength of the Chinese system,” said Martin. “But it’s paired with this insistence that once that aid is received, countries must be publicly grateful to Beijing and they should keep quiet about issues over which they might disagree.”
Martin, the author of China’s Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy, also discussed the origins of the Wolf Warrior ethos within the Communist Party, stemming from the inception of the party.
He explained that China’s first foreign minister, Zhou Enlai, “came up with the idea that Chinese diplomats should think and act like the People’s Liberation Army in civilian clothing, which meant of course that they would be unfailingly loyal to the Communist Party, they would show extraordinary discipline following orders and they would also develop what he called a ‘fighting spirit’ when China’s interests were challenged.”
Martin offered an overview of how China implemented this ethos in its foreign policy during its rise to power as the world’s second-largest economy, detailing a pivot from low-profile and conciliatory foreign diplomacy toward a more combative, defensive and provocative stance in recent years.
He said that the Wolf Warrior approach really gained momentum in 2017: “When China’s economy was stronger and larger than it had ever been, Xi Jinping was pushing the Belt and Road Initiative around the world, [China] opened a military base in Djibouti and was militarizing islands in the South China Sea.”
Watch the full discussion below: