For all the popular interest in “wolf warrior diplomacy,” scant attention has been paid to the internal logics and mechanics of representative communications, notably the intersection with grassroots cyber-nationalism. Centring the connections between official and unofficial actors, we situate Chinese diplomatic communications within the domestic nationalist cyberspace cultures that demand and nourish the “dare to fight” orientation of formal Chinese diplomacy on the international stage. We argue that there is a synergistic interaction between officials and popular nationalism that creates bottom-up incentives to adopt a “wolf warrior” posture, distinct from simultaneous top-down pressures from the central leadership under Xi Jinping to appropriately represent China's “confident rise.” We show through case studies involving MoFA spokesperson and archetypal “wolf warrior” Zhao Lijian, that this interaction extends to sharing unofficial content and ideas in a mutually reinforcing cycle that facilitates a harder edge to diplomatic communications.
Sullivan, J., & Wang, W. (2023). China's "wolf warrior diplomacy:" The interaction of formal diplomacy and cyber-nationalism. Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 52(1), 68-88. https://doi.org/10.1177/18681026221079841