New Delhi, Sep 02: The aggression in Ladakh, South China Sea are seen as attempts by China to divert attention from domestic issue. President Xi Jinping is also flexing his muscles to bolster his standing at home.
A phrase commonly used in the Chinese state run media is Wold Warriors and this represents a completely different type of diplomacy by the foreign representatives of China, who had a bland approach in the past.
The aggressive posturing is evident with Chinese officials taking to the social media to hit out at any sort of criticism of the country or the Communist Party.
The phrase Wolf Warrior stems from the hugely successful series Wolf Warrior. While the the first part that was released in 2015 was a huge success, its sequel released in 2017 was even more successful.
The series is based on squad of the Peoples Liberation Army soldiers sent to Africa to rescue Chinese civilians. Even though a thousand miles away, anyone who affronts China will pay, the tagline of the film said.
The change in approach by the Chinese could be seen in a controversial tweet by Zhao Lijian, who was a counsellor at the Chinese embassy in Pakistan. In a series of tweets posted in July 2019, Zhao had said that the US had no right to criticise China on human rights abuses when it had problems with racism, income inequality and gun violence. There are places in Washington DC where white people never go, he had also said.
While he was termed as a racist disgrace by Susan Rice, China went on to reward him. He is today one of the three spokespeople in the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Earlier, China's foreign policy was a largely muted one. Dang Xiaoping would say, 'observe calmly, secure our position, cope with affairs calmly.' Later on this was changed to, ' do something or work with what you have.'
However under Hu Jintao the policy began to shift and he pushed immensely for a prominent role for China and also greater foreign direct investment. Over the years, the Chinese became more aggressive and the diplomats had become more energetic. To US President's Chinese coronavirus and Wuhan flu comment, Zhao had tweeted, " CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation."
The experts say that the aggressive position taken by the Chinese as the world fights a deadly pandemic should also be seen in the context of its own internal problems. Last month Xi Jinping launched Operation Clean Plate to prepare the country for a potential food crisis. This had in fact set of a debate whether China was expecting its food supply chain to get worse.
In addition to this, Han Changfu, agriculture minister had said that the African swine fever that led to the killing of 100 million pigs was a threat, but there will not be a big increase in the price of pork. A report in the Hindustan Times while quoting official statistics said that the food prices went up by 13 per cent in July when compared with a year ago and the price of pork by around 85 per cent.
The report also said that the floods in the Yangtze River basin, the source of most of China's rice has affected production and transportation and also disrupted lives of millions. Operation Clean Plate has come under criticism. A Chinese restaurant had apologised to its customers for its policy of asking customers to weigh themselves before entering. Customers had been asked to stand on scales and scan their data into an app that recommended food choices based on their weight and the dishes' calorific value.
It was following Xi's message that the Wuhan Catering Industry Association urged restaurants in the city to limit the number of dishes sever to the diners. Restaurants had displayed sign boards like be thrifty and diligent, promote empty plates.
The other issues that China has been facing in recent times is several companies threatening to shut shop and this has raised concerns of an economic crisis. While Chinese President, Xi Jinping faces no threat to his seat, there are uncomfortable questions that are being asked by the Chinese People's Consultative Conference, which is the country's most powerful political advisory.
In this backdrop, the National People's Congress was called to discuss on the development plan for the next five years. This would give the Chinese leadership a platform to respond to both the internal and International issues.
China's adventurism at the border is only aimed at creating a diversion. Their actions are more pre-emptive in nature to sidestep from the uncomfortable questions that the leadership would face. There is mounting pressure on the leadership to explain the handling of the pandemic. What has made matters worse is the pressure from the international community and the businesses moving away, the official also explained.
In addition to this, China also wants to divert attention from the issues in Hong Kong as well as Taiwan.