Wang Yi might be China’s top diplomat but charm is not his forte. Earlier this week, he issued a blunt and bizarre assessment of the close relationship between Japan and South Korea with the United States and its democratic allies.
Stooping to stereotyping, Wang left Japanese and South Korean guests flabbergasted at a forum in the eastern coastal city of Qingdao on Monday.
“No matter how blonde you dye your hair, how sharp you shape your nose, you can never become a European or American, you can never become a Westerner,” Wang pointed out in a video shared by China’s state media.
“We must know where our roots lie,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of the annual International Forum for Trilateral Cooperation, organized by Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul.
Roots of conflict:
- China’s bullying in the East and South China Seas has alarmed Japan and South Korea.
- So has Beijing’s coercive trade practices amid rising nationalism in the world’s second-largest economy.
- Threats to invade democratic Taiwan have only added to a toxic mix and a close alignment with the US and its partners.
Delve deeper: Wang is a member of the powerful Political Bureau of the Communist Party’s Central Committee and part of the gang of Xicophants under President Xi Jinping.
Between the lines: “Certain major powers outside the region [are] exaggerating ideological differences,” he said in a warning aimed at Washington.
State of play: “If this trend [continues], it will not only seriously interfere with trilateral cooperation, but also aggravate tension and confrontation in the region,” Wang added, according to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
China Factor comment: Beijing’s hardline foreign policy has at times bordered on xenophobia in China’s state-run media. The country is often portrayed as the “victim” to gloss over the Communist Party’s failures at home and diplomatic disputes abroad.