Taming the wolves-China’s rising aggression


Before the pandemic, there were signs of growing confidence in China.But by the beginning of 2020, with the rapid spread of Covid-19 around the world, Beijing was overcrowded “Wolf Warrior”.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Zhao Lijian Accused on Twitter In March of this year, the virus originated in the United States and hinted that Washington was covering up: “When did Patient Zero first appear in the United States? How many people were infected?… It is possible that the US military brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Transparent! Open! Your data! The United States owes us an explanation!”

In this rare situation, Zhao, who has nearly 1 million Twitter followers and a large number of supporters in China, was slapped by his boss. As American anger erupted, Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the United States, dismissed his remarks as “very harmful” speculation.

In a broader context, this episode raises key questions. Why did the Chinese diplomats, who have long been known for their composure and discipline, start to furious? What strategy is Beijing adopting to weaken the power of the United States and the world order it leads? What does China’s foreign policy mean to neighboring countries such as India?

The next decade will be critical to a new era of superpower competition between the United States and China, which may lead to military upgrades and a series of subtle changes in the way the world operates. Three enlightening books provide indispensable perspectives on the challenges China’s rise has brought to the wider world.

The word “wolf warrior” in the subtitle of Peter Martin’s book Chinese civilian army, From a Chinese action movie, with the slogan: “Who attacks China, how far the target is, who kills who.” The hero in the movie is the special force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army-known as the wolf of war-they defeated foreign mercenaries .

In the diplomatic field, the term refers to officials who do not use the usual rhetoric to attack foreign targets. Martin’s admirable book is full of examples and poses a truly puzzling question: What do Chinese diplomats hope to gain from the threats and insults they issue?

Consider some evidence. In 2018, the Chinese representative who participated in the Pacific Islands Forum composed of 13 small island nations did not wait for his turn to speak, and rushed out of the meeting after being furious. In Canada, the Chinese ambassador accused the host of “Western arrogance and white supremacy”, while in South Africa, the Chinese representative claimed that US policies were making the United States an “enemy of the world”.

Chinese Ambassador to Sweden Gui Congyou was interviewed by the media at the end of 2019

Chinese Ambassador to Sweden Gui Congyou was interviewed by the media at the end of 2019 © TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Ima

In Sweden, Ambassador Gui Congyou selected so many fight He was summoned by the Stockholm Ministry of Foreign Affairs more than 40 times in two years. In an unforgettable outbreak, he compared Sweden to a 48 kg boxer and China to an 86 kg boxer. “The lightweight boxer did not listen. He continued to provoke and force himself into the home of the heavyweight boxer. What choice does this 86 kg boxer have?” Gui was quoted as saying.

In Brazil, after his son blamed the “Chinese dictatorship” for the pandemic, the Chinese ambassador called President Jal Bolsonaro’s family a “poison.”Ambassador Cheng Jingye said the Chinese may not consume Australian beef and wine After Canberra called for an international investigation into the origin of Covid.

There is no doubt that this pandemic has exacerbated China’s non-diplomatic stigma. However, Martin said that it did not explain it. In fact, this phenomenon is likely to continue because it stems from the core narrative of the Chinese Communist Party and its internal distrust of the outside world.

Martin, a reporter who had worked in China, returned to the CCP’s creative story to illustrate this point. Martin wrote: “Chinese envoys cannot escape the shackles of the mysterious and paranoid political system.” “They will continue to be bound by the system established through the underground revolutionary struggle that matured during the height of the Cold War.”

Of course, they also hope that their outbreak will impress their boss Xi Jinping. This Chinese leader’s strong advantage in foreign affairs was typified in our affairs during his visit to Mexico in 2009.”

Since then, as the president of the country, Xi Jinping’s internal memos have targeted “Western constitutional democracy”, human rights, media independence, citizen participation, and other values ??that underpin Western democracy. Therefore, when Chinese diplomats adopt the role of wolf fighter, they embody the hostility recognized by the CCP.

However, as Rush Doshi in Long-term game: China’s grand strategy to replace the American orderBeijing has many ambitions. The wisdom of this book is that it clearly analyzes the strategy of a country that hopes to shape the 21st century in the same way that the United States has shaped the last century.

Dorsey, the former director of the Brookings Institution in Washington, wrote that the competition for influence “will be a global competition, and Beijing has every reason to believe that the next decade may determine the outcome.”

He divided China’s practices into three categories-passivation, construction, and expansion. The first-blunt weapon-is being deployed by Beijing to undermine US control of exercises around the world in terms of military power, political influence, and economic leadership.

Since the three incidents-the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing in 1989, anyone who has been following China for many years will be familiar with this strategy. The 1991 Gulf War; and also the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 — convinced Beijing that the United States is its greatest strategic threat in the world.

The effectiveness of passivation stems from the fact that any relative gains made by Beijing, regardless of the increment, can be regarded as a victory. Therefore, when China launches its third aircraft carrier, relatively speaking, it will weaken one aspect of US military superiority—regardless of whether the United States has 11 aircraft carriers in service.

Similarly, China’s construction of the world’s largest mine tank, the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile, and the world’s largest submarine fleet are all weakening the US military.

Political inactivation involves China’s joining a series of regional organizations-such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Forum-“may be used by Washington to establish a free regional order… so China joined them and weakened the power of the United States.” Once it becomes part of these organizations, Beijing will defeat and hinder US goals in them. Economic sluggishness is similar.

The second strategy-construction-was formulated after it was determined that the 2008 financial crisis left the United States at a disadvantage.Two examples are led by China Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, A multilateral lending institution with members in more than 100 countries, and “One Belt One Road” Initiative, Xi Jinping plans to build infrastructure and gain influence in developing countries.

The expansion strategy represents a more ambitious stage. Dorsey said that Beijing’s goal is to replace the United States as the world’s leading country by 2049, 100 years after the CCP seizes power. In order to achieve this goal, it tried to gain leadership over international institutions and impose authoritarian norms.

The last chapter of the book puts forward a strategy for the United States to deal with the long-term game carefully planned by China. Dorsey advocates much more nuances than the former President Donald Trump who initiated the trade war. He called for economic decoupling and called the new crown virus “Kung Fu Flu“.

On the contrary, Dorsey believes that “for an asymmetrical competitive strategy, there is no need to match the dollar to the dollar, ship to ship, or loan to loan.”

The third book (of the same name), by Vijay Gokhale Long-term game: how China negotiates with India, Paying particular attention to increasingly unstable relationships. In 2020, a sudden clash between the two countries’ disputed Himalayan border caused 20 Indian soldiers and Four Chinese , Showing the combustibility of bilateral relations.

The former Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador to Beijing Gokal used his book to deconstruct China’s negotiation skills in high-risk situations.

“In recent years, it seems that the former solemn and amiable Chinese negotiator may have been replaced by confident wolf fighters,” Gokal wrote. “Recently, they tend to show aggressiveness, arrogance, irritability, and other unpleasant characteristics, but this is also dramatic.” There is no interest in making friends for friendship. Building a relationship is “focusing on manipulation”, and any expression of anger is “dressing up”.

Although Chinese diplomats may be masters of dress, no one doubts the reality that Beijing’s posture has become increasingly aggressive.As Doshi wrote, it is already XinjiangViolating its international commitment to Hong Kong’s autonomy, fighting with Indian troops at the border and installing missiles on islands in the South China Sea, threatening Financial penalty Oppose Australia and several other countries, and kidnap European citizens from third countries.

Its firm opposition to the US-led world order is unmistakable.Last month, Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng quoted Chinese official media It’s like telling US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman that the “rules-based international order” is actually the American version of the “Law of the Jungle” that Washington uses to bully others.

As the superpower competition unfolds in the next decade, it will draw many other countries into its whirlpool. As politicians debate which superpower to support or how to hedge their bets, alarm bells have sounded in capitals around the world. The ever-present potential fear is that if American peace really gives way to the emerging Chinese peace, then the transition may not transition from one world order to another. It may just fall into chaos.

Chinese civilian army: Formation of Wolf Warriors Diplomacy Peter Martin, OUP US$27.95/£21.99, 272 pages

Long game: China’s grand strategy to replace the American order Through Rush Dorsey, OUP £21.99, 336 pages

Long game: How China negotiates with India By Vijay Gokal, Vintage Books 699 rupees/penguin 26.99 pounds, 200 pages

James Ginger Is the Global China Editor of the Financial Times

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