On October 21, 2021, the APARC China Program had the opportunity to host Peter Martin, Defense Policy and Intelligence Reporter for Bloomberg News, for a program on Chinese displomacy. In honor of his recently released book, China's Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy, Mr. Martin gave us a deep dive into the origins of this contentious diplomatic style and what it tells us about domestic politics in China. The panel was moderated by Professor Jean Oi, William Haas Professor of Chinese Politics and director of the APARC China Program.
As many who follow Chinese politics will be aware, Chinese diplomacy in the past several years has become increasingly assertive and its diplomats have used sharper language. Based on Chinese action movies of the same name, this pointed style of communication has earned these diplomats the title "wolf warriors." Some of the more stand-out examples of wolf warrior diplomacy include China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian's claim that COVID-19 was actually created by the United States, or the uncomfortable exchange between American and Chinese diplomats at the US-China Alaska summit in March, 2021.
In this program, Mr. Martin traced the roots of China's approach to diplomacy back to the communist revolution of 1949 and told the story of how it has evolved through social upheaval, famine, capitalist reforms, and China's rise to superpower status. His book draws on dozens of interviews and--for the first time--on the memoirs of more than 100 retired Chinese diplomats. The program was followed by a robust Q&A session between Mr. Martin and the audience. Watch now: