Because the diplomatic fallout continues over the digitally altered warfare crimes tweet despatched by China’s Overseas Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, earlier this week, it’s essential to notice this inflammatory and offensive put up just isn’t an remoted case.
Zhao and different Chinese language officers and diplomats have made many outrageous assaults on Australia and the US in recent times. Zhao himself was in all probability greatest recognized earlier than this week’s tweet for his official promotion of a conspiracy concept that the US army was answerable for bringing the coronavirus to China.
Hu Xijin, the editor in chief of the World Instances, an official newspaper of the Chinese language Communist Social gathering, is one other vocal critic of Australia.
4 years in the past, the newspaper printed a scathing editorial directed at Australia after Canberra stated China should abide by a global tribunal ruling on the South China Sea. It referred to as Australia a “paper cat” with an “inglorious” historical past, and stated, “If Australia steps into the South China Sea waters, it is going to be a great goal for China to warn and strike.”
Why nationalism is such a strong power in China
These unrestrained assaults and repeated humiliations of Australia look weird, however they’re engineered to swimsuit a few particular functions for the totalitarian regime in China: one home, the opposite international.
Domestically, this extra aggressive posturing towards the world, generally known as “wolf warrior diplomacy”, is a key operate of President Xi Jinping’s dictatorship, which is predicated virtually solely on Chinese language nationalism cultivated by the Communist Social gathering.
Identical to former chief Mao Zedong, Xi has consolidated his energy, partly, as a result of cult of persona that has developed round his rule. Xi’s picture is in every single place in China and he’s even promoted his personal ideology referred to as “Xi Jinping Thought” in an analogous vein to “Mao Zedong Thought” (and his well-known Little Purple E-book).
Mao’s energy was constructed on the dual ideologies of communism and Chinese language nationalism. At this time, nevertheless, communism is a waning power in China.
And although Xi and his followers nonetheless use the beliefs of Marxism and “Xi Jinping Thought” for political functions — resembling purging rivals and dissidents — they rely closely on Chinese language nationalism to take care of the legitimacy of their rule within the eyes of the general public.
Nationalism is a strong power in at present’s China. It’s seen in every thing from Xi’s persistent requires the “nice rejuvenation of the Chinese language nation” to Beijing’s more and more strident anti-American and anti-foreign sentiments.
Xi rose to the highest with a mediocre profession, however has been dressed up magically as a strongman with nice expertise and unyielding will — a picture that has turn into indispensable for the soundness and cohesion of the regime.
As a way to develop Xi’s strongman picture and impose submission on your entire nation, the Communist Social gathering propaganda machine has even resumed the titles utilized by Mao and different nice dictators, resembling “helmsman” and “individuals’s chief”. Loyalty to the nation, the occasion and the chief has been made similar as soon as once more.
Nonetheless, there’s rising resentment amongst some Chinese language to Xi’s rule and the nation faces monumental political, financial and social challenges. As such, Xi lives with a profound sense of insecurity. And his arbitrary rule and want for absolute management make everybody else really feel insecure.
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It’s in opposition to this backdrop that “wolf warrior diplomacy” has taken rise. Those that are seen as being powerful in opposition to any actual or potential enemies designated by the good chief are rewarded for his or her loyalty.
For this reason Zhao Lijian isn’t punished for his inflammatory rhetoric in opposition to Australia, the US and different adversaries; reasonably, he’s turn into a star due to it.
Beijing sees an important and comfortable goal
And on the worldwide stage, China has lengthy promoted its financial and political system as a authentic different to the US-led, rules-based worldwide order.
As such, it has more and more expanded its affect diplomatically and militarily in recent times and arrange the Belt and Street Initiative to create a brand new international financial and infrastructure community with China on the centre.
As a part of this grand technique, China has taken intention at international locations like Australia that dare to problem it to power their submission.
Australia is perceived by the Communist Social gathering as each an important goal for its shut alliance with the US and a comfortable goal for its financial dependence on China. In brief, Beijing can assault Canberra with out dealing with many repercussions — and set an instance for the remainder of the world.
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The “wolf warriors” within the occasion have made frequent references to Australia being nothing however a pawn or lapdog of the US — an apparent try and drive a wedge between the 2 international locations.
With practically half of all Australian items exports now going to China, Beijing has additionally tried to make use of this financial reliance to its benefit to power Canberra to switch its tone and behavior.
Exhibiting the willpower of the Communist Social gathering regime to rein Australia in, the Chinese language embassy in Canberra final month handed over a file of “14 grievances” to a number of Australian information retailers and demanded the Morrison authorities reverse Australia’s place on key insurance policies.
These included criticising human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, calling for an unbiased investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and banning Huawei from the nation’s 5G community.
Behind China’s newly aggressive diplomacy: ‘wolf warriors’ able to struggle again
The Communist Social gathering state won’t recognise how its quest for regional domination and expansionist insurance policies threaten its neighbours, nor will it perceive how its oppressive insurance policies in opposition to its personal residents are a reason behind authentic concern for the world.
It should additionally not settle for the truth of a robust Australia combating again in opposition to Chinese language bullying and interference to safeguard its sovereignty, core values and institutional integrity.
Beijing is flexing its muscle mass to make sure the submission of Australia and break up an Australia-US alliance based mostly on nationwide pursuits and shared values. However this can be a gross miscalculation that can probably deliver concerning the reverse outcome.
Chongyi Feng has acquired analysis grants from the Australian Analysis Council.