"Have China’s Wolf Warriors Gone Extinct?" - by CWP alum Tyler Jost

June 27, 2024

Five years ago, in 2019, China’s diplomats stopped being diplomatic. High-profile ambassadors and foreign ministry spokespeople began to make acerbic, sarcastic, and negative statements on Twitter (now X), in press conferences, and behind closed doors. The contrast to Chinese diplomats’ previously tactful and circumspect rhetorical style was so striking that observers at home and abroad conferred a colorful new moniker on China’s emissaries: “wolf warriors.”

The primary aim of wolf warrior diplomacy was to disarm foreign critics through public confrontations, often using emotionally evocative language. In July 2019, for example, one of China’s senior diplomats in Pakistan traded barbs with a former U.S. national security adviser on Twitter. In November, the Chinese ambassador to Sweden made headlines when he said, “We treat our friends with fine wine, but for our enemies we have shotguns.” During diplomatic talks in Alaska in March 2021, China’s senior diplomat Yang Jiechi publicly warned Secretary of State Antony Blinken not to “smear China’s social system” and a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson criticized the U.S. delegation for creating a hostile atmosphere “filled with the smell of gunpowder.”

Why Beijing Embraced Combative Diplomacy—and Why It Might Do So Again - By Tyler Jost June 27, 2024

Tyler Jost is Assistant Professor of Political Science, International & Public Affairs and Watson Institute Assistant Professor of China Studies. His research focuses on national security decision-making, bureaucratic politics, and Chinese foreign policy. Dr. Jost’s current book project examines domestic institutions designed to decide and coordinate national security policy, such as the U.S. National Security Council. Dr. Jost completed his doctoral degree in the Department of Government at Harvard University. He has held postdoctoral fellowships in the International Security Program at the Kennedy School of Government, as well as in the China and the World Program at Columbia University. His research has been supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.

Photo Credit: By China News Service, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=91033312

Tyler Jost