As China rises on the international stage, some Western countries feel that China is being increasingly offensive. China’s moves that fight for its own interests and even objectively state facts will be regarded as “wolf warrior diplomacy” or even “arrogant.” In their minds, China should swallow its anger, insults and smears, or at least not be on par with the West. These Western elites still believe this is the time when they can act capriciously.
For example, The Economist released an article online for its April 3 print edition entitled “China is betting that the West is in irreversible decline.” The article listed China’s tough stance during the Alaska talks and China’s recent sanctions on some British, Canadian and European Union individuals, concluding that China is “hubristic and paranoid” and is prepared for a “protracted struggle.”
Times have changed, but the mind-set of some Western elites has not. The US and other Western countries need a complete change in their understanding and attitude toward China. In the Western stereotype, China has been in a passive position in the international community ever since its gate was forcibly opened by the West in the 19th century. Western elites cannot accept that China is now righteously refuting their arrogance and nonsense. They should stop pretending that they can point fingers at China imperiously. That era has long been gone.
April 1 marks the 20th anniversary of the passing of Chinese air force pilot Wang Wei who died when his fighter jet collided with a US military reconnaissance aircraft in the South China Sea. In 2001, the US showed off at China’s doorsteps, leading to Wang’s sacrifice. But the US did not even apologize and the American pilot who crashed Wang’s jet was even praised by the US. Today, does the West still expect China to endure Western elites’ provocation like 20 years ago?
China is a country of etiquette and Chinese diplomats abide by diplomatic etiquette. But when China is provoked and its core interests are threatened, China will never give in. When Western countries use fake news to smear China’s governance in Xinjiang, try to mess up China’s stability and even impose sanctions, China is absolutely justified to respond with countermeasures. This is what every sovereign country would do.
China was once invaded by the “Eight-Nation Alliance” – troops from Britain, the US, Germany, France, Russia, Japan, Italy and Austro-Hungary, and now it seems that the Group of Seven members are still staying in that era, trying to jointly criticize China’s policies on Xinjiang, Hong Kong and other internal affairs. However, they can no longer use their so-called gunboat diplomacy to change today’s China. They must deal with China in an equal and respectful manner.
And if Western countries stubbornly twist the facts, wantonly undermine the rules and blatantly criticize China, then China’s counterattack is completely justified. The right or wrong in this world is not determined by Western elites. Although it is very hard to change their mentality, they will gradually learn it the hard way from China’s statements and acts.
As China is gradually moving toward the center of the international arena, it is also viewing the world with a more confident, equal and tolerant mentality. However, the West is becoming increasingly paranoid. Western countries must understand that it is not their privilege but the rights of all countries – big or small – to speak out for their legitimate interests. Is the strength of the US and other Western countries declining? All countries will have their own judgments. But regardless of the balance of power, China’s determination to safeguard its national dignity and core interests will never change.