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China’s Wolf Warrior Diplomacy: Decreasing Dividends

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In recent weeks, China’s Wolf Warrior Diplomacy a term used for aggressive measures taken in the diplomatic tool box including physical intimidation against rivals to compel them to back off from a confrontational posture appears to be facing resistance from Taiwan, Philippines as well as India.


Firstly India, New Delhi publicly acknowledged the visit of a US Congressional delegation to Dharamshala the seat of HH Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile, though not recognized by any country.


In the past India has been relatively circumspect on visits by foreign dignitaries, but this time around the US delegation was even granted an audience on return from the meeting in Dharamshala with the Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi where some provocative statements were made by members of the delegation.


The seven-member US Congressional delegation led by Rep. Michael McCaul, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The other members of the delegation included Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Gregory Meeks, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, Rep. Amerish Babulal “Ami Bera” and Rep. Jim McGovern. The delegation members congratulated Prime Minister on his election for the historic third consecutive term. 


This comes as the former House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi openly castigated Chinese President Xi Jinping after meeting the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala claiming that while the Chinese President’s legacy will fade, Dalai Lama's heritage 'will live forever'. "His Holiness Dalai Lama, with his message of knowledge, tradition, compassion, purity of soul and love, will live a long time and his legacy will live forever. But you, the President of China, you'll be gone and nobody will give you credit for anything," she said. In Dharamshala House Foreign Affairs Committee leader McCaul affirmed President Biden's intention to sign the 'Resolve Tibet Act'.


Meanwhile US Congress passed the 'Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act', also known as the 'Resolve Tibet Act', which urges China to re-engage with the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders to peacefully resolve their dispute over the status and governance of Tibet. Reacting strongly the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Lin Jian called the spiritual leader "a political exile engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the cloak of religion," as reported by the Times of India


Previously in response to Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in 2023 where she made similar statements targeting the Chinese leadership, China dispatched warships and fired ballistic missiles nearby.


China also warned of "resolute measures" if the United States signed the "Tibet policy bill" into law and also urged to not support “Xizang independence.” Lin Jian, said, "It’s known by all that the 14th Dalai Lama is not a pure religious figure, but a political exile engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the cloak of religion. " "We are gravely concerned over the relevant reports and urge the US side to fully recognize the anti-China separatist nature of the Dalai group, honor the commitments the US has made to China on issues related to Xizang, have no contact with the Dalai group in any form, and stop sending the wrong signal to the world," he added.


The strong statements directly aimed at President Xi Jinping may also be awkward for India as the statements have been made on Indian soil. Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson indicated that US Delegation visited Dharamshala on 18th and 19th indicating an acknowledgement of the setting in which they met HH the Dalai Lama.


On the meeting of the US delegation with Dalai Lama Jaiswal said, “As far as the question of Dalai Lama is concerned, I would like to reiterate what our position is. The Government of India's position on His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been very clear and consistent. He is a revered religious leader and is deeply respected by the people of India. His Holiness is accorded due courtesies and freedom to conduct his religious and spiritual activities. As regard the statements made by the US Delegation, I would say that you take your questions to them because they will be in a better position to answer as to what they mean by it and it is for them to answer these questions”.

 

Taiwan


Taiwan dismissed China's criticism of a messages exchanged between Indian PM Narendra Modi and Taiwanese president Lai Ching-te congratulating Mr Modi on reelection as the Prime Minister as "unreasonable interference". Deputy foreign minister of Taiwan Tien Chung-kwang  said, "I am sure that Modi ji and our president won't be intimidated by that reaction", he said. China had lodged protest with India over saying that "India has made serious political commitments and should resist Taiwan authorities' political calculations". Taiwan's foreign minister said, "This is a very common thing to congratulate each other. Why do other people have something to say about it? I don't understand. This is a very unreasonable interference between two leaders congratulating each other on the commonly used X platform."


India has also rejected a request by China's government and airlines to restore direct air links. "We hope the Indian side will work with China in the same direction for the early resumption of direct flights," China's Foreign Ministry told Reuters, highlighting that resuming flights would benefit both countries. However, a senior Indian official responded, "Unless there is peace and tranquillity on the border, the rest of the relationship cannot move forward."


A “Galwan,” in Philippines


Philippines Coast Guard faced their Galwan moment – with non lethal attacks replicating the ones on Indian Army personnel in June 2020 in Eastern Ladakh.


Chinese coast guard rammed, boarded and used machetes and axes to damage two Philippine navy boats in a faceoff that injured Filipino navy personnel at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea last week.


While President Marcos awarded those involved in the clash Philippines Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said the government did not consider the Chinese coast guard confrontation an armed attack as stated in the mutual defense treaty with the U.S.


“This was probably a misunderstanding or an accident. We’re not yet ready to classify this as an armed attack,” Bersamin said. “We saw bolo, axe, nothing beyond that.”


Videos and pictures of the chaotic faceoff were made public by the military showing Chinese coast guard personnel hitting a Philippine navy boat with a wooden bar and seizing a bag while blaring sirens and using blinding strobe lights.


The Chinese government said that its coast guard acted after Filipino forces defied warnings not to stray into what China calls its own offshore territory, a claim long rejected by rival claimant governments and international arbitrators.


Limits of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy


Clearly Wolf Warrior diplomacy has its limitations particularly where sovereignty of other states is involved such as with India, Taiwan and Philippines or alternately some core issues such as the future of the institution of the Dalai Lama.


A unilateral rathern than a consultative approach may produce better outcomes in the interest of all parties, but China seems to be hurtling towards a path of confrontation that will only deepen the regional and the geopolitical divide.

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