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Wolf Warriors in the Subcontinent

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    24th May, 2021

The article talks about the Wolf Warrior diplomacy (Chinese assertive diplomacy) in the Indian Subcontinent.


The article talks about the Wolf Warrior diplomacy (Chinese assertive diplomacy) in the Indian Subcontinent.


  • China’s diplomacy under the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting a change in tone from what Henry Kissinger described as “subtle and indirect” and Beijing’s long diplomacy style which was long guided by Deng Xiaoping’s maxim of Tao Guang Yang Hui of ‘hide and bide’
  • COVID-19 has exposed China’s departure from both these approaches, as China’s new posturing is defined as “Wolf Warrior diplomacy”- an assertive approach named after a popular Chinese nationalistic film where Chinese special-operations fighters defeat western led mercenaries.
  • The Chinese envoy to Bangladesh warned that Bangladesh will risk “significant damage” to its bilateral relationship with Beijing if it warms up to the Quad, or the quadrilateral framework.


Wolf Warrior Diplomacy of China

  • The wolf warrior diplomacy is confrontational and combative, with its proponents loudly denouncing any criticism of China on social media and in interviews.Recent warning to Dhaka is one of such examples.In this case, it is the Chinese diplomats that have become the fighters, when the world is sounding China.
  • The speculations and criticism over Beijing’s lack of transparency in dealing with the Corona virus as well as reluctance in raising early alarms over the epidemic has led to a global call for ‘make China pay’ against the virus outbreak.
  • Against this, the response to the ‘blame game’ against China, has sparked a significant change both in behaviour and rhetoric of China’s diplomats as noted in their “increasingly more strident and combative” display of attitude.
  • The frontrunners being Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokespersons Zhao Lijian and Hua Chunying who are vociferous in the hit back against any form of criticism against Beijing- defending the Chinese thesis that the ‘virus is recorded in China but has not originated in China’.
  • China always used tough language when it came to issues of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and pushed back vigorously against any perceived attempts at interfering in its internal affairs.
  • The new “wolf warrior diplomacy” confronts head-on any criticism of China in the public sphere. They lecture host governments and don’t always show up when “summoned” by foreign offices.

Chinese assertion in Indian backyard

  • China’s increasing presence and involvement in the Indian Ocean is certainly a strategic and security problem for India.
  • China’s overall naval capabilities have exceeded India’s. China is continuously developing its naval capabilities and forging partnerships with strategically located states in the Indian Ocean.
  • For example, in 2017, China established its first offshore military base in Djibouti that would provide it with a considerable capacity to monitor the Indian Navy’s movements in the Indian Ocean.
  • In addition, the developments of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor along with Gwadar Port will also provide China with an enhanced military presence in the Indian Ocean region.
  • With the assertive and ambitious Belt and Road Initiative and Maritime Silk Road, China has consolidated its influence over the Indian neighbours as almost all the neighbour sans Bhutan have shown the keen interests in joining.
  • Recently, Sri Lankan parliament passes controversial Bill on China-backed Colombo Port City. Hambantota Port is already under China’s control.
  • The current pandemic situation has only aggravated the situation as China is ramping up its relief efforts in these countries.


  • Initiated in 2007, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is an informal grouping of India, the US, Australia and Japan formed under the Indo-Pacific framework aimed at restraining China’s rise.
  • China has been vehemently opposing its formation with a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman emphasising in March that exchanges and cooperation between countries should help expand mutual understanding and trust, instead of targeting or harming the interests of third parties.
  • The four Quad member countries have resolved to uphold a rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific amid growing Chinese assertiveness in the strategically vital region.
  • The first ever summit of the Quad leaders was hosted by US President Joe Biden on March 12 this year which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.


Bangladesh keen to join Indo-Pacific for economic reasons: recent trends

  • Bangladesh has already shown interest in joining the Indo-Pacific initiative but that is aimed only at strengthening its economic ties with countries in this vast region and also for enhanced connectivity.
  • Dhaka views Indo-Pacific purely from an economic perspective and is also contemplating coming out with a strategy for the region.
  • India and Bangladesh had jointly inaugurated the ‘Maitri Setu’ (Friendship Bridge) in March, weeks before Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Dhaka, in an effort to enhance infrastructure connectivity with the neighbouring country, as New Delhi plans to take Dhaka into its strategic embrace under the umbrella of Indo-Pacific cooperation.
  • India has also joined hands with Japan in developing connectivity with Bangladesh.
  • It seems that Bangladesh will eventually come up with its own Indo-Pacific policy as it seeks closer ties with the Southeast Asian region.

Way forward

Despite the Quad has not invited Dhaka to join the party, the Chinese ambassador was simply laying down a red line for Bangladesh through warning. Beijing is conscious about the Bangladesh’s impressive economic performance, its strategic location and India’s growing diplomatic investment in developing a strategic partnership with Dhaka and Washington & Tokyo are keen to expand cooperation with Dhaka. Therefore, it was a pre-emptive strike which is a very much part of Beijing’s strategic culture.

Our neighbours have long seen China as a convenient, off-the-shelf free of cost solution to balancing India. But now, Beijing has become more assertive in South Asia, the costs of relying on China are likely to become more apparent.  The interventions by China will only be intensified in future and each of our neighbours will soon discover the joys of dealing with the new hegemon on the South Asian horizon.

Thus, the recent warning of the Chinese envoy in Dhaka against joining the Quad point to the new kind of challenges that the Subcontinent including Beijing’s both friends and foes will face from the assertive superpower at its doorstep.


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