KRecently, Xi Jinping called on party officials to spread a “credible, lovable and respectable image of China” around the world. His country must appear self-confident but also modest and expand the circle of his friends in the international public, he demanded. Anyone who believed that this could mean turning away from rowdy wolf warrior diplomacy saw themselves learned otherwise by this week at the latest.
On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Zhao Lijian alleged that the European Union and American President Joe Biden were “either mentally underexposed” or “underestimating the intellect of the Chinese people.” That was his answer to Biden’s meeting with the EU leaders, in which both sides agreed on close coordination on China-related issues. The same Chinese spokesman had previously described the United States as “sick, very sick” after the G-7 meeting on Sunday.
Beijing speaks of a systemic conflict
With this, Zhao Lijian followed Xi Jinping’s ideas about the appearance of his country in the world. Because in addition to a “lovable” image of China, the head of state and party also spoke of a “struggle” for international sovereignty. The battle term, which originated in the Mao period, should be understood literally. The Chinese propaganda apparatus accompanied Joe Biden’s trip to Europe with the now well-known message of the alleged decline of the West and the rise of the East. A prominent scientist described the G-7 meeting as “the dusk of western power projection” in an opinion piece for the party newspaper Beijing News.
“I don’t know where the G7, which are already a wilting flower, still get their arrogance,” wrote Ling Shengli of the China Foreign Affairs University, under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He then praised China as the true guardian of multilateralism and as the protective power of a majority of the international community that is being oppressed by a small clique led by Washington. “The lack of voice and representation in developing countries has raised calls for changes in the existing international system,” Ling wrote.
This basic motive has been part of the Beijing canon at least since the meeting of the leading foreign policy makers of China and America in Alaska in March. Ling did not fail to point out that there are concerns in Europe about building a common front against China. He referred to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had called for a “right balance” in dealing with China.
On Wednesday, on the occasion of the meeting between Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the party press invoked China’s partnership with Russia. Behind this is the concern that defusing the conflict between Moscow and Washington could give Biden more room to focus even more resources on the rivalry with China.
Beijing is speaking more and more of a systemic conflict in which it sees itself on the winning side. Then on Tuesday, China sent 25 military aircraft to the Taiwanese air defense zone. While such intimidation flights have become routine, Beijing is saving new highs in the number of aircraft, like now, for special days to send Washington a mark of determination.