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Episode 07 – China’s Wolf Warriors

About this Episode

Revered in China’s diplomatic corps as the founding father of Chinese diplomacy, Zhou Enlai established the militaristic culture within the foreign office in the early days of the People’s Republic. Yet, for decades, China’s low-key and passive approach to its diplomatic relations prevailed. The more combative style of diplomacy exemplified by, for instance, a former Chinese diplomat in Pakistan, Zhao Lijian, is a more recent phenomenon shaped by external and internal changes.

In this episode of Dragon Road, host Arif Rafiq discusses this “wolf warrior” diplomacy with journalist and author of China’s Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy, Peter Martin. Martin explains the reasons behind the transition from Deng Xiaoping’s cautious approach to President Xi Jinping’s muscular direction. He also speaks about how this brand of nationalism is resonating within China and in countries such as Hungary, the Philippines and Russia, even as some in the Chinese foreign policy establishment quietly express their reservations. Speckled with historic anecdotes, the discussion examines the effectiveness of wolf-warrior diplomacy in the context of changing perceptions of global US leadership post-Trump and China’s own economic self-confidence.

About the Guest

Peter Martin is a political reporter for Bloomberg News. He has written extensively on escalating tensions in the US-China relationship and reported from China’s border with North Korea and its far-western region of Xinjiang. His latest book, China’s Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy, focuses on those on the front line of China’s transformation from an isolated and impoverished communist state to a global superpower: China’s diplomats. He tweets @PeterMartin_PCM.

Publications by the Guest

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A Non-Resident Fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC and president of Vizier Consulting, LLC, a political risk advisory firm focused on the Middle East and South Asia.