Washington rift leaves China dancing in the dark

It is unlikely that new ambassador Xie Feng will be able to repair trust in Beijing’s diplomatic policy

It takes two to tango but not in Beijing. In the diplomatic dance between the world’s two superpowers, China is constantly blaming the United States for stepping on its toes.

Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. Yet this how the ruling Chinese Communist Party view the geopolitical landscape.

When it comes to partners, the Party prefers autocrats rather than democrats.

On Tuesday, the blunt-talking Xie Feng arrived in Washington to take over the role of China’s ambassador to the US. He did not mince his words.

“I have come here to safeguard China’s interest. This is my sacred responsibility,” he said at a media briefing after landing at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport.

Face of diplomacy:

  • The 59-year-old former deputy foreign minister is hardly known for his tact.
  • In February, he called Washington “obstinate” after shooting down an alleged Chinese spy balloon in American airspace
  • Before that incident, Xie accused the US of creating an “imaginary enemy” in China during a rant aimed at US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in 2021.
  • He has also been tarnished by his hardline approach to diplomacy.

Every time there are positive signs … they are quickly extinguished.


Between the lines: “Wolf Warrior diplomacy doesn’t go over very well in Washington and I’d be very surprised if he was more of a Wolf Warrior rather than a problem solver,” Susan Shirk, who was in the Bill Clinton administration, told Politico.

Delve deeper: Xie is an old Washington hand after being posted twice to the American capital. He has also been involved in overseeing Chinese President Xi Jinping’s US policy as deputy foreign minister.

Big picture: Last week, US President Joe Biden hinted at the Group of Seven Summit in Hiroshima that American-Sino relations could “begin to thaw very shortly.” At the moment, they are glacier-like.

Alternative view: China’s state-run media is highly-skeptical about Washington’s intentions and what new Ambassador Xie can achieve. Frosty would be an understatement.

What was said: “Every time there are positive signs of restarting dialogue between the two sides, they are quickly extinguished by Washington’s suppression and containment actions against China,” Global Times stressed in an editorial.  

China Factor comment: Finding a diplomatic dance partner in the US was always going to be difficult when you use “economic coercion,” threaten democratic Taiwan and “militarize” the South China Sea. But then, that is what happens in the land of Xicophants.