China Analysis

Crazy soundbites and ‘Wolf Warrior’ culture

Abrasive ambassador Lu Shaye backs China’s hardline diplomatic approach to the West

Abrasive ambassador Lu Shaye has enthusiastically embraced the “Wolf Warrior” pack philosophy. 

Back in March, the head of the Chinese diplomatic mission in France was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after a series of toxic tweets.

Fast forward nearly three months later and Lu is unrepentant while still spewing Communist Party propaganda in Beijing’s version of the truth.

“In the eyes of Westerners, our diplomacy is offensive and aggressive, but the truth is, it is them [the West] who are on the offensive and aggressive,” he said in an interview with the Chinese government-backed media website Guancha earlier this week.

“What we are doing is merely justified defense to protect our rights and interests,” Lu added.

Comments like these are now commonplace as the United States and its allies clash with China on a range of issues, including human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Beijing’s pro-democracy crackdown in Hong Kong.

Rising military tension in the South and East China Seas, and the origins of Covid-19 in the Chinese city of Wuhan nearly two years ago, are other international flashpoints.

Ambassador Lu’s howlers:

  • “The reason why some people are used to arrogantly adopting double standards is due to Western egotism and white supremacy.” 
  • “Every time the Americans make an allegation, the French media report them a day or two later.”
  • “They howl with the wolves, to make a big fuss about lies and rumors about China.”
  • “The West has launched a public opinion war against us.” 
  • “China’s image would be tarnished if we do not strike back.”
  • “We will not stop what we are doing simply because foreigners don’t like what we do.”

Paris row, part one: Lu was first summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in March. It revolved around an anonymous post on the embassy’s website, claiming France had left their senior citizens “to die” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

China’s ‘Wolf Warrior’ pack is dictating foreign policy. Image: Flickr / Art: China Factor

What was said: “Residents of retirement homes were made to sign certificates of ‘waiver of emergency care;’ the nursing staff of the Ehpad [Accommodation Facility for Dependent Elderly] abandoned their posts overnight, deserted collectively, leaving their residents to die of hunger and disease.”

Paris row, part two: Lu wrote to French Senator Alain Richard weeks later condemning his decision to make a controversial trip to Taiwan. Beijing regards the island democracy as a renegade province and has threatened to take it back by force if necessary.

What was said: China’s embassy in Paris later accused French academic Antoine Bondaz of being a “little thug” and a “crazed hyena.” Bondaz’s apparent crime was a critical tweet about Lu’s intervention in “France’s democratic system.”

Named and shamed: Lu was described as “visually shaken” when he received a diplomatic dressing down at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Behind the rhetoric: “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy is named after a fiercely nationalistic film franchise in China and a box-office hit. The original movie depicted a Rambo-style Chinese lead character fighting American-led mercenaries.

Delve deeper: In 2017, Beijing’s hardline diplomatic discourse was sanctioned from the very top by President Xi Jinping, the commander-in-chief of the People’s Liberation Army and chairman of the Communist Party of China.

Devoted disciples: Academics in the world’s second-largest economy have been quick to embrace Xi’s Thoughts on foreign policy even if they contradict the facts.

Caught in a trap: “The US has cast aside the principles of the United Nations Charter and wants to impose on China and other parts of the world its own rules [and] values by repeatedly showing military force in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait and the East China Sea,” Wu Zurong, of the China Foundation for International Studies, which is run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wrote in a commentary for the China-US Focus website.

China Factor comment: Earlier this month, President Xi called for a worldwide propaganda push to give the ruling CCP a cuddly, “loveable” panda image. “We should create a [more] reliable, admirable, and lovable image of China,” he said as reported by the official Xinhua News Agency. Even he knows that “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy has been a disaster for international relations.

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