China’s preeminent “wolf warrior diplomat,” foreign ministry troll Zhao Lijian, appears to have rabies.
That, or he’s suffering from some other malady which manifests aggressive ranting. Formerly the press officer in Pakistan, Zhao Lijian is now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s chief spokesman. In that role, Zhao is expected to advance the Communist Party’s foreign interests and promote China’s global reputation. Zhao is not, to put it mildly, succeeding. Close to China’s primary intelligence service, the Ministry of State Security, this young man has always been a hard-liner. Something most of Beijing’s Standing Committee value greatly, even if Xi Jinping has his doubts.
Regardless, Zhao’s current press briefing strategy is more reflective of a crazed bat than an intellectual hawk. Take Zhao’s performance on Thursday.
Asked about reports that China might sue a researcher and U.S. resident, Adrian Zenz, for slander, Zhao threatened to have Zenz killed (yes, you read that right – read on). Context: China despises Zenz for his instrumental work in drawing attention to the glorious Communist Party’s semigenocidal campaign against its Uighur Muslim population. In that vein, Zhao’s response to a challenge as to the Party’s motives was predictably agitated. “Here’s a piece of advice,” the Wolf barked, “Come back to the right course as soon as possible,” the wolf howled, “because too many vile deeds will inevitably lead to one’s self-destruction.”
Note, here, the North Korean-style hyperbole: “vile deeds,” “inevitably,” “self-destruction.”
This was only the start. Asked about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent criticisms of Beijing’s foreign policy aggression, Zhao lept back into the rabies-indicative mindset.
“The first thing I want to say is, Mr. Pompeo, stop talking about credibility, truth, or accountability because we are so fed up with your words.” More context: as with the North Koreans, the Chinese blame Pompeo for preventing Trump from being played by the country’s foreign policy gamesmanship.
But Zhao wasn’t done. Pompeo’s conduct, he said, evinces a “nature of lying and cheating and some American officials’ hypocrisy, arrogance, and ignorance. We advise this U.S. politician to rectify his mistakes and stop spreading the political virus to avoid becoming a laughingstock.”
Zhao thinks he’s been clever by referencing Pompeo as a viral vector. Unfortunately for the Politburo, he’s only drawing the world’s attention back to China’s pandemic of deception over its early response to the outbreak.
Next up, Zhao was back to blaming America for the coronavirus. This narrative tactic is one of Zhao’s favorites, born with ridiculed tweets in which he blamed the U.S. Army for introducing the virus to its birthplace in Wuhan. “WHO officials have said virus tracing is an ongoing process that may involve multiple countries and localities,” Zhao said. “As this process proceeds, we should be open to the many possibilities for where the virus may come from.”
Hint: “America did it” is what he’ll twist the findings to say.
Except the word “hint” is not in the Chinese communist vocabulary. Back on Pompeo: “Speaking of the truth, I’d like to ask Mr. Pompeo: Can U.S. government tell people in America and around the world the truth behind the Fort Detrick biolab, the EVALI, and the U.S. biolabs located all over the world?”
The assembled media is supposed to watch this performance, pause, and think something along the lines of: “Ah, yes, Zhao has a good point, the Fort Detrick biodefense laboratory is indeed the most likely origin for COVID-19. The U.S. Army or CIA must then have covertly vectored that virus into Wuhan.”
Zhao has a slight problem here.
Namely, that even China’s puppet friend, the World Health Organization, has admitted that the virus was born in Wuhan. The rest of the world also knows this. An added problem? As time goes on, the world will know that China engaged in a major cover-up of activities related to viral research in Wuhan. That doesn’t mean the virus escaped from a laboratory, but it does mean that China knows it has something to hide (I bank my journalistic reputation on this).
Things didn’t improve for the wolf when a BBC reporter asked a very sensible question: “Earlier, you mentioned that Australia was in breach of basic norms governing international relations with its comments and moves regarding Hong Kong. Can you tell us which laws they are?” The reporter was referring to Zhao’s earlier comments to that effect and his added warning that residency offers to Hongkongers “constitute gross interference in China’s internal affairs, and China doesn’t accept it.”
But Zhao wasn’t very happy that the BBC asked him to identify the specific laws that Australia has breached (presumably because no such laws exist). And so, he freaked out (again). “Isn’t non-interference in other countries internal affairs a basic norm governing international relations? Do I have to elaborate?” he snapped.
No, Zhao, you don’t have to. Anyone who can read knows that China is actually the one in breach of the law here by shredding its commitments under the Sino-British treaty accords. And anyone with basic knowledge of international treaty law and the UN charter knows that Australia has every right under international law to offer residency to anyone it wishes.
As I say, the wolf may have a form of rabies. Either that or someone high up in the Chinese Communist Party is using Zhao as a secret weapon to destroy the regime’s credibility from the inside out.