The Evolution of China’s ‘Wolf Warrior’ Diplomats

The Evolution of China’s ‘Wolf Warrior’ Diplomats
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying during a daily briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Beijing, Sept. 1, 2020 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Like their counterparts from around the world, Chinese diplomats tend to be well-credentialed, sophisticated, multilingual and knowledgeable about their host countries and institutions. Yet an increasing number of Chinese envoys and officials are adopting a stridently nationalistic, even belligerent tone in their official statements. Some of these “wolf warrior” diplomats, have even shown a willingness to spread conspiracy theories or use doctored images in order to score points. While this aggressive behavior often plays well back home, it tends to undermine the traditional goals of diplomacy by hardening foreign attitudes toward China.

Peter Martin, a Bloomberg reporter who was previously posted in Beijing, examines this phenomenon in a new book, “China’s Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy.” He joins WPR’s Elliot Waldman on the Trend Lines podcast this week to discuss the historical development of China’s diplomatic apparatus from the early days of the Communist Revolution to the present. If you would like to request a full transcript of the episode, please send an email to Click here to read a partial transcript of the interview.


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Trend Lines is edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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