China’s ‘Wolf Warrior’ Diplomacy



    • In recent years, Under President Xi Jinping, there is a shift in the way Chinese diplomacy is conducted.
      • During the Covid-19 pandemic, this behaviour came to be known as “wolf warrior diplomacy.”

    What does ‘Wolf Warrior’ Diplomacy mean?

    • About:
      • Wolf warrior diplomacy describes an aggressive style of coercive diplomacy adopted by Chinese diplomats in the 21st century under Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s administration.
      • This unofficial phrase is derived from the title of the patriotic Chinese action film series ‘Wolf Warrior’. 
      • The films, with their nationalist themes and dialogues, focus on Chinese fighters who frequently face off against Western mercenaries.
    • Features:
      • The new ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’ confronts head-on any criticism of China in  the public sphere. 
      • Chinese government’s wolf warrior diplomacy of 21st century is characterized  by the 
        • use of confrontational rhetoric by Chinese diplomats,  
        • coercive behaviour, 
        • loudly denouncing any perceived criticism of the Chinese government and its policies, and 
        • court controversy in interviews and on social media.
      • Efforts aimed at incorporating the Chinese diaspora into China’s foreign policy have also intensified with an emphasis placed on ethnic loyalty over national loyalty.

    Comparison with earlier approach

    • This approach is in contrast to prior Chinese diplomatic practices of Deng Xiaoping of 1970s-80s, which had emphasized on 
      • working behind the scenes, 
      • avoiding controversy and 
      • Favoring a rhetoric of international cooperation.

    Major Country Diplomacy

    • The emergence of wolf warrior diplomacy is part of Xi Jinping’s broader “Major Country Diplomacy”.
    • In terms of China’s foreign policy, Xi Jinping’s “Major Country Diplomacy” calls for a more active role for China on the world stage, particularly with regards to 
      • reform of the international order, 
      • engaging in open ideological competition with the West, and 
      • assuming a greater responsibility for global affairs in accordance with China’s rising power and status.

    Other Reasons for emergence of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy

    • Since 2010, when China’s GDP overtook Japan’s as the world’s second largest, the Chinese have become more confident and China’s foreign policy has become more assertive.
    • The change in strategy has been attributed to many reasons, such as Xi’s more authoritarian tendencies as compared to earlier leaders, deteriorating US-China relations under former US President Donald Trump, the coronavirus pandemic-related accusations on China, etc.
    • Many Chinese believe the Western media portrayal of China is highly biased, often with ideological and racist biases. Wolf-warrior diplomacy is part of the Chinese government’s endeavour to “tell the China story.”


    • Wolf warrior diplomacy has often garnered a strong response and in some  cases has provoked a backlash against China and specific diplomats such as Australia’s calls for an independent probe into the coronavirus’ origins.
    • It can have negative ramifications for bilateral relations with other countries.
    • In response, Taiwan has launched Cat warrior diplomacy which focusses on the soft power aspects of Taiwan’s advanced economy, democracy, and respect for human rights as well as using Chinese aggression to highlight the differences between their two political systems.

    Source: TH