Two items from today’s Wall Street Journal highlight the increasingly belligerent turn in Xi’s foreign policy toward the United States.

China’s Wolf Warrior Diplomacy

The first is an excellent analysis of promotions (and putting out to pasture) during the 20th Party Congress through the lens of China’s Wolf Warrior diplomacy. Some key takeaways:

  • China’s acerbic foreign minister, Wang Yi, has replaced the relatively urbane Yang Jiechi as China Communist Party’s (CCP) top foreign affairs official. (It was Yang Jiechi together with John Kerry who awarded China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia our U.S.-China EcoPartnership award in 2014). Yang is retiring.
  • China’s envoy to the U.S., Qin Gang, who has earned a reputation for brusqueness since his appointment in 2021, is considered a leading contender for the position of foreign minister (to be decided this spring). His elevation to the CCP’s 205-member Central Committee makes him the first incumbent ambassador to be promoted directly to full membership.
  • As Chun Han Wong and Keith Zhai report, “Messrs. Qin and Wang are leading exponents of the muscular diplomacy that Mr. Xi demands, driven by the leader’s vision of an ascendant and uncompromising China that challenges the U.S. for global preeminence. The personnel shuffle suggests … that Beijing remains committed to an adversarial stance toward Washington, undeterred by rising tensions.

China’s Covid Coercion

The second, today’s main editorial, summarizes the confinements and coercive measures that U.S. diplomats were forced to endure in China despite the State Department’s stated policy that it would not allow authoritarian governments to use Covid as an excuse to mistreat or monitor diplomats. I rarely find myself in agreement with WSJ editorials but, in this instance, investigation is warranted because the Chinese government demonstrably leveraged its Covid measures to increase its control and technological surveillance over its population as a whole. It’s important to better understand how this intrusive and abusive treatment may also have been targeted to U.S. and other diplomats who are supposed, by internationally recognized law, to have special protections.