A butchered Aesop’s fable from the Twitter account of the Chinese embassy in Ireland has drawn mirth from observers and highlighted the growing sensitivity of Chinese diplomats to international criticism.
As China engages in international disputes, the belligerent and aggressive style of communication of some of its foreign officials has earned the nickname “wolf warrior diplomacy.”
Thursday’s Twitter post pushed back on such accusations, but appeared to lose something in translation as the author navigated English allegories and the need to maintain an image of Chinese strength.
Riffing on the fable of the Wolf and the Lamb, a story of tyrannical injustice in which the lamb is falsely accused and killed, the post queried: “Who is the wolf?”
“Some people accused China for so-called ‘wolf-warrior diplomacy.’ In his well-known fable, Aesop described how the Wolf accused the Lamb of committing offences. The wolf is the wolf, not the lamb ... BTW, China is not a lamb.”
The confused analogy prompted attempts to unpack its meaning.
“[H]e leaps in with the fable of the wolf and the lamb ... but as he gets to the end, he realises he’s left himself open. China can’t be portrayed as a weak lamb that will be eaten up. China is strong, powerful! So he adds the ‘BTW,’” Foreign Policy deputy editor James Palmer said.
“I honestly don’t think the embassy staff meant to say that China is the wolf in this fable, but I scratch my head about what they meant to say through this fable,” said Victor Shih, a University of California, San Diego academic. “[If] it’s something like ‘China is innocent like the lamb in the fable except China is a wolf’ then don’t use the fable!”
While the Twitter post sparked ridicule, it also highlighted the growing enthusiasm of Chinese diplomats to show toughness.
“There’s always been this performative aspect of being an official in the party structure, but we’re hearing it louder now,” said Margaret Lewis, a China specialist at Seton Hall University, New Jersey.
Wolf warrior posts are usually made on Western social media platforms such as Twitter (banned in China). Some have landed a hit: an illustration and post about findings of suspected war crimes by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan prompted an angry news conference by the Australian prime minister, but Palmer said their intended audience is usually Chinese government superiors.
“It counts as success if your boss, or your boss’ boss, sees it and thinks it reflects the right political line,” Palmer said. “There’s maybe some small bonus in a dumb post that gets mocked a lot because if you’re getting measured for impact at all, it takes no account of the qualitative impact, only the quantifiable one.”
BEIJING BAILOUT: Pyongyang’s economic woes would not lead to famine because China will not let that happen due to its fear of a pro-US unified Korea, experts say North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for another “arduous march” to fight severe economic difficulties, for the first time comparing them to a 1990s famine that killed hundreds of thousands. Kim had previously said his nation faces its “worst-ever” situation due to several factors — including the COVID-19 pandemic, US-led sanctions and natural disasters in the summer last year — but it is the first time he has publicly drawn a parallel with the deadly famine. North Korea monitoring groups have not detected any signs of mass starvation or a humanitarian disaster, but Kim’s comments still suggest how seriously he views
‘VOSTOK 1’: The first flight attempt is planned to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the first space flight by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin NASA’s Ingenuity mini-helicopter has survived its first night alone on the frigid surface of Mars, the US space agency said, hailing it as “a major milestone” for the tiny craft as it prepares for its first flight. The ultra-light aircraft was dropped on the surface on Saturday after detaching from the belly of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on Feb. 18. Detached from the Perseverance, Ingenuity had to rely on its own solar-powered battery to run a vital heater to protect its unshielded electrical components from freezing and cracking during the bitter Martian night, where temperatures can plunge as low as
LOSING CONTROL? Fitch Solutions said that a revolution pitting the military against the anti-coup movement and ethnic militias was likely due to the rising violence Burmese security forces yesterday arrested Paing Takhon, a model and actor who had spoken out against a military coup, his sister told reporters, as people placed shoes filled with flowers in parts of Yangon to commemorate dead protesters. Troops on Wednesday opened fire on protesters, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens, protesters and media said. Nearly 600 civilians have been killed by security forces since the junta in February seized power from the elected government of Aung San Su Kyi, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said on Wednesday. The advocacy group said that 2,847 were being held in detention. A spokesman
A years-long David and Goliath fight which has seen two Australian surfers take on a Chinese-linked company over alleged damage of an idyllic Fijian island has come to its conclusion after a court handed down a guilty verdict against the developers yesterday. The case has been described by Pacific legal experts as a “watershed” moment that tested Fijian environmental laws, as well as the willingness of the nation — which presents itself as a global climate leader — to “walk the walk” on environmental issues. Freesoul, a Chinese-linked company, in 2018 began work on Malolo Island, with plans to build Fiji’s largest