onsdag 2. juni 2021

Xi Jinping wants to 'make friends' with the world. But Beijing can't kick its wolf warrior habits

Xi Jinping wants China to learn how to make friends and influence people. Speaking at a study session for the Communist Party's top leadership on Monday, the Chinese President said it was important for the country to tell its story in a positive way, presenting the image of a "credible, lovable, and respectable China," according to state-run news agency XinhuaHe added that the Party's propaganda organizations need to make it clear to the world that Beijing wants "nothing but the Chinese people's well-being."

Xi's vision makes sense. Since taking power in 2012, he has pushed for China to take a bigger role in global affairs, but aside from Russia and Pakistan, China has few strong diplomatic relationships with major world powers. What Xi didn't say was that his country currently has a big image problem in many parts of the world. A Pew Research report from late 2020 found that of 14 countries surveyed across Europe, North America and East Asia, every one had a majority negative view of China.

Part of Beijing's image problem comes from the Covid-19 pandemic, and allegations the government covered up the original outbreak in Wuhan in December 2019, potentially worsening the global spread of the virus. But opinions of China were worsening even before the pandemic -- and part of that is down to the country's embrace of "wolf warrior" diplomacy.