China signalled on Thursday no let-up in its combative approach to foreign policy in a third term for Xi Jinping as leader despite criticism from many Western diplomats that the so-called Wolf Warrior stance has been counterproductive.
As relations with the West have soured over issues from trade and human rights to COVID-19, Chinese diplomats have often been confrontational on the public stage, including on social media, a stridency that some critics see as intended for a domestic audience that nonetheless hurts its foreign ties.
“We Chinese will not capitulate. We will not sit and do nothing while our country’s interests are being harmed,” Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhouxu said in response to a Reuters question at a Thursday news conference to discuss Chinese diplomacy in the decade since Xi assumed power.
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“Going forward, Chinese diplomats will continue to overcome all obstacles, and always be the devoted guardians of the interests of our country and our people,” said Ma, who is considered to be among contenders to replace Wang Yi as foreign minister in an upcoming leadership reshuffle.
Xi is poised to break with precedent and secure a third leadership term at next month’s once-in-five-years congress of the ruling Communist Party.
Xi has urged Chinese diplomats to have more “fighting spirit”, an instruction that has seen many Chinese officials take to social media platforms including Twitter, which is blocked in China, with an aggression that has come to be known as “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy, after a patriotic movie franchise.
A global survey released this week by the Washington-based Pew Research Center found that public opinion towards China in the United States and other advanced economies had turned “precipitously more negative” under Xi.