Xi wants China to be 'lovable' - it doesn't mean he's making nice

Chinese President Xi Jinping arriving for the opening session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in March. Last week, he told senior Communist Party officials that they should improve their communication with the rest of the world. In his words, China is engaged in a "public opinion struggle". PHOTO: REUTERS

China's top diplomats have castigated their American counterparts for hypocrisy and condescension. They icily reminded Europeans of the continent's experience with genocide. They just accused New Zealand, a country that had been careful not to cause offence, of "gross interference" in China's affairs.

So when China's top leader, Mr Xi Jinping, told senior Communist Party officials last week that they should improve their communication with the rest of the world, some analysts suggested he was acknowledging that China's increasingly pugnacious approach to diplomacy in recent months had not been warmly received.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2021, with the headline 'Xi wants China to be 'lovable' - it doesn't mean he's making nice'. Subscribe