Cattleya Liutantri


Throughout this decade, we would notice significant changes in China’s public diplomacy strategy. Before, under Hu Jintao, China adopts a peaceful diplomatic strategy where they try to emphasize that the rapid development of China is no threat to the rest of the world. After Xi Jinping took over the government, this country’s diplomatic strategy took a dramatic turn. During numerous speeches, Xi Jinping asserts his intention to revitalize and recover China’s glory. Thus, began China’s aggressive approach throughout the globe. From actively participating in numerous organizations to giving billion of dollars of aid to other countries, China clearly shows its intention to spread its influence. However, the recent COVID-19 pandemic ends up spoiling China’s hard-earned image and dragging it through the gutter. Global citizen all around the world blames China for causing the pandemic and accuses China of being incompetent in managing the spread of the virus. In the face of criticism, China doesn’t simply take it instead, we can see that many Chinese government officials try to bite back through numerous public platforms. One of their famous “clap backs” is Zhao Lijian’s tweet responding to a video by CDC stating “CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!”.

source : twitter

This tweet by Zhao Lijian brings various responses from the public. Some of them criticize China for spreading false news and some of them also show encouragement towards this aggressive behavior.

After many cases of public retaliation against critics of China, western media came up with a name for this behavior. They call it Wolf Warrior Diplomacy, named after a popular movie in China. This movie depicts a patriotic soldier defending China from foreign forces. In the eyes of western media, the aggressive responses of China’s officials are similar to the soldier in that movie. Therefore, naming their behavior after the movie.

Looking at their behavior, we would wonder what is the motive behind it. While we might assume that their actions were their attempt to recover their image, it doesn’t seem plausible looking at the bad responses from the global citizens. If not, it only worsens the image of China in the international world. So, we might question the intention behind this behavior.

I have reasons to believe that the target audience of these aggressive clap backs is not the global population. First, the government doesn’t do anything to stop them. We all know how strict China is regarding information where the information going in and out of their country is strictly filtered. Furthermore, these tweets were posted from official verified accounts and still exist to this day. The people making those tweets still continue with similar behavior too. Therefore, in my opinion, even if the Chinese government never officially supports this behavior, we can agree that at least there is tacit permission. With this understanding, I can conclude that their behavior is not unintentional, but rather a calculated move.

In my opinion, these actions are not futile, but rather quite successful if seen from a different point of view. The actions of these “wolf warriors” receive good feedback from their populations and overseas Chinese. Among the numerous negative replies and news from the western audience, we would find replies praising their actions. In fact, on the domestic platform, their actions are welcomed and celebrated because they love the idea that China is retaliating and not silently taking criticism. Therefore, it is possible that the purpose of wolf warrior diplomacy is to recover China’s image in the eyes of the Chinese people. This is plausible because, despite the restricted flow of information in China, the domestic citizen still obtained information regarding this wolf warrior’s actions. In my opinion, there is a possibility that the Chinese Government is intentionally spreading the news, therefore, reinforcing the theory of their actions being a calculated strategy to recover their image in the eyes of the Chinese people.

Seluruh pandangan dari tulisan ini merupakan opini pribadi penulis dan tidak merepresentasikan PCD Studies Center.





Kategori: Opinion

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