In-Depth

China explains why it is going all 'Wolf Warrior' on the EU
China explains why it is going all 'Wolf Warrior' on the EU
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"Our countermeasures may have come as a surprise to Brussels, as they probably expect equal sanctions, yet we anted up our punitive measures.'

One of the questions I am most often asked is, 'Why is China engaging in "Wolf Warrior" diplomacy when it can see that a lot of the time, rather than intimidating other countries, it is turning them against China?' My answer:

  1. First, China believes it has the upper hand in its relations with most other countries. Because of its economic strength, China feels that other nations can't afford to push back.
  2. Second, Xi Jinping has asserted, 'The East is rising, the West is declining.' So he sees China's inevitable - nothing can stop us - trajectory toward global leadership. China will have the power to force other countries to bend to its will, and it's starting early. That said, it may be getting a little ahead of itself.
  3. Third, China believes the west is treating it unfairly and not according it the respect it rightly deserves. And China isn't going to take it anymore.
  4. Fourth, China has found that bullying works a lot of the time.
  5. [Fifth, resentment toward the west and Japan for China's 'Century of Humiliation' seems to be the current flowing beneath all 'Wolf Warrior' diplomatic actions - more on that in an upcoming issue.]

Elements of each of these can be discerned in the reasons China has given for its tough response.

From a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs :

  • ‘This move [the EU sanctions], based on nothing but lies and disinformation, disregards and distorts facts, grossly interferes in China's internal affairs, flagrantly breaches international law and basic norms governing international relations, and severely undermines China-EU relations.’
  • ‘China firmly opposes and strongly condemns this.’
  • ‘The Chinese government is firmly determined to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.’

‘The Chinese side urges the EU side to reflect on itself, face squarely the severity of its mistake and redress it.’

  • ‘It must stop lecturing others on human rights and interfering in their internal affairs.’
  • ‘It must end the hypocritical practice of double standards and stop going further down the wrong path. Otherwise, China will resolutely make further reactions.’

On the same theme, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said in response to a question:

  • ‘The EU imposed sanctions on relevant Chinese individuals and entities under the pretext of the so-called human right issues in Xinjiang on the basis of lies and disinformation.’

‘It is the EU side that initiated groundless provocations first.’

  • ‘China was only making just and justified reactions. ‘

‘The European side willfully smeared and attacked China, and even wantonly imposed sanctions on the basis of disinformation, but wouldn't allow China to make responses and reactions.’

  • ‘This in itself is a double standard, which is hegemonic, bullying and hypocritical.’

And from an article in the Chinese Communist Party’s newspaper the Global Times, quoting Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies:

  • ‘ "Our countermeasures may have come as a surprise to Brussels, as they probably expect equal sanctions, yet we anted up our punitive measures." '
  • ‘ "This sends a clear signal to the bloc where our bottom line is, and warns the EU of severe consequences if it is plotting further punitive measures." ’

So far, with the EU, it looks as if the Wolf Warriors have miscalculated this time. Maybe.

  • But it probably won't be long before we know if this coalition on the Uighurs is a one-off or the start of a series of confrontations led by the U.S. with the EU at its side.
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