China names 'Wolf Warrior' diplomat as new ambassador in Washington

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Washington (AFP)

One of China's most prominent "Wolf Warrior" diplomats was on Wednesday announced as his nation's new ambassador to the United States.

The hawkish Qin Gang, a close confidante of President Xi Jinping, has arrived in Washington at a time of high tensions between China and the United States, and is expected to deliver a combative message.

He gained prominence during his two stints as foreign ministry spokesman, issuing barbed responses to foreign reporters and pioneering an aggressive style of defending China in the press and on social media dubbed "Wolf Warrior" diplomacy.

"As two big countries different in history, culture, social system and development stage, China and the United States are entering a new round of mutual exploration, understanding and adaptation, trying to find a way to get along with each other," Qin told reporters on his arrival in the American capital.

The new envoy vowed to bring US-China ties "back on track," according to a transcript released by the Chinese embassy.

The relationship has rapidly deteriorated in recent years, with the two powers clashing on a wide range of issues including trade, human rights, cybersecurity and the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And while President Joe Biden has lowered the tone since taking office, he has largely maintained his predecessor Donald Trump's hawkish stance on China, describing it as the pre-eminent challenge to the United States.

Qin, who accompanied Xi on numerous overseas trips as the foreign ministry's protocol chief, is among the diplomats who have vigorously defended China in the face of increasing criticism on the world stage.

The 55-year-old is considered more hawkish than his predecessor in Washington, Cui Tiankai. He is a fluent English speaker, having spent several years at the Chinese embassy in London.

Beijing-based independent analyst Hua Po described Qin as "one of the backbone members" of the Wolf Warrior movement.

Qin in February defended that style of diplomacy as a necessary response to "groundless slander" and "crazy attacks against China".

Chinese foreign ministry spokespeople and officials abroad have adopted a strident and indignant tone to loudly defend the Communist-led country and even promote conspiracy theories or openly insult foreign counterparts.

But President Xi recently urged top political leaders to help cultivate a "reliable, admirable and respectable" international image to improve China's soft power.