Asked on Monday if his appointment as foreign minister is a signal that China is moving away from "wolf warrior diplomacy", Qin Gang's response was straightforward and yet insightful.
Qin recalled the time when the US media exclaimed "here comes a Chinese wolf warrior" after he was named China's ambassador to the United States in July of 2021. But after he returned to China to assume the position of foreign minister, the US media didn't refer to him as "wolf warrior".
"I kind of feel at a loss," Qin told journalists covering the first session of the 14th National People's Congress in Beijing.
Qin described "wolf warrior diplomacy" as a narrative spread by people who know little about China and its diplomacy, or people who have a hidden agenda. "In Chinese diplomacy, there is no shortage of goodwill and kindness. But if faced with jackals or wolves, Chinese diplomats would have no choice but to confront them head-on and protect our motherland," he said.
I agree with Qin, because I too have been called by some in the West as a "wolf warrior" for criticizing Western politicians who indulge in China bashing.
That is also the case in Africa where people are fed up with being lectured by the West for centuries
It is true that Chinese officials, diplomats and journalists didn't return the favor of those vicious Western politicians attacking China. But after they started doing so a few years ago, it shocked many in the West who are used to lecturing the rest of the world, especially the developing countries, on diplomacy and international relations.
Many Western politicians believe that they can point the finger at will at the rest of the world, and the rest of the world should listen to them but never talk back. But in order to deserve the title of "wolf warriors" that can take on hysterical Western "hyena warriors", Chinese officials, diplomats and journalists need to become much tougher.
Chinese lawmakers are attending the annual session of the 14th National People's Congress, but no one could possibly name anyone who bashes the US nearly as viciously as some US lawmakers smear China, including Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, Marsha Blackburn and new China hawk Mike Gallagher.
Despite the West's efforts to silence China's voice by calling Western critics "wolf warriors", the Chinese people will no longer be silent while the West recklessly smears China. That is also the case in Africa where people are fed up with being lectured by the West for centuries.
At a joint press conference last Saturday, Felix Tshisekedi, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, told visiting French President Emmanuel Macron to "look at us differently by respecting us, and not always with a paternalistic look".Tshisekedi asserted: "Francafrique no longer exists. We must establish a policy of equals."
In another case, Norbert Lammert, former president of German parliament Bundestag, complained to Namibian President Hage Geingob that there are four times more Chinese than Germans in Namibia.
Irritated by Lammert's complaint, Geingob replied that instead of smearing China, German and other Western leaders need to do some self-introspection. Geingob said despite Namibia rolling out the "red carpet" for Germans, Namibians, in particular, and Africans, in general, have often been victims of serious racism in Germany.
It is possible that African leaders such as Geingob and their diplomats may soon be labeled something like "wolf warriors" if they keep opposing the baseless comments of Western politicians and media. But the West should have stopped lecturing the rest of the world, especially the developing countries, a long time ago.
The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.