Lu Shaye, China’s envoy to France, said this week that the old Chinese diplomatic style of “hide your strength and bide your time” has passed and China will instead continue “striking” at western public opinion with open criticism.
In an interview with Chinese media reported by Reuters on Thursday, Lu said, “In the eyes of the Westerners, our diplomacy is on the offensive and aggressive, but the truth is, it is them who are on the offensive and aggressive. What we are doing is merely justified defence to protect our rights and interests.”
“Our striking on diplomatic and public opinion fronts is a form of ‘achieve something,’” Lu said. “I told them our style has changed, and you need to get used to our new style.”
Lu said China’s previous diplomatic style under former leader Deng Xiaoping, was to “hide your strength and bide your time.” He said that strategy was necessary at the time because China had neither the need nor the strength to conflict with other nations on the international stage. Lu said that now, with China’s economic interests growing rapidly and with the West “bent on suppressing its growth” China must continue to assert itself.
France 24 reported in March, Lu referred to one French lawmaker as a “small-time hoodlum,” a “crazed hyena” and “ideological troll” for discussing French lawmakers potentially visiting the island of Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory.
The Washington Examiner reported Lu had further angered the French government by refusing a summons to meet at the foreign ministry to address his March comments. The Washington Examiner reported Lu has since described his diplomatic style is along the lines of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s call for Chinese people to “achieve something” in their work.
Chinese foreign policy has increasingly been described as “wolf warrior” diplomacy, a term named after a pro-Chinese military film “Wolf Warrior” in which a Chinese military operative hunts down a Chinese criminal aided by an ex-U.S. Navy SEAL. The Chinese diplomatic style has seen Chinese officials use social media apps, including ones banned in China like Facebook and Twitter, to launch verbal accusations at other countries.
One prominent example of the diplomatic style was seen at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, when Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lijian Zhao, began circulating claims on Twitter that the U.S. Army unleashed COVID-19. The baseless Chinese claims the U.S. Army created the virus came about amid increased scrutiny over the Chinese origins of COVID-19 and China’s initial handling of the virus outbreak.
The Chinese state-run Global Times reported Lu has embraced the term “wolf warrior” to describe his own diplomatic style, seeing it as a positive term for those who fight for China.
Lu said there are many “mad dogs” who criticize China. “I am honored to be awarded the title. We are fighters who stand in front of the motherland and fight for her, and we want to stand in the way of ‘mad dogs’ that attack China.”