Not according to Bill Bishop at Sinocism:
Comment: David Bandurski of the China Media Project has written an excellent article on the Politburo’s collective study session on global discourse power and the wishful thinking in some quick takes about a change in tone/halt of “wolf-warriorism”. He provides good background on the discussant, Fudan University professor Zhang Weiwei.
I am deeply skeptical that this somehow signals a softening or an end to “wolf warriorism”…quite the opposite in fact, I see this as a sign that much more energy and resources are going to be put into the global public opinion struggle
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They are not talking about changing the underlying policies, they are formulating how to better guide international public opinion about China, and they will do it with all sorts of methods, some open and benign, some not. It is part of the broader goal of reshaping the international order across every major dimension. The readout says that:
Xi Jinping emphasized that to widely publicize China’s ideas, China’s wisdom and China’s plan, China is increasingly approaching the center of the world stage, and has the ability and responsibility to play a greater role in global affairs and make greater contributions to solving the problems of all mankind together with other countries. It is necessary to hold high the banner of the community of human destiny, rely on the vivid practice of China’s development, based on more than 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, and comprehensively expound China’s views on development, civilization, security, human rights, ecology, international order and global governance. We should advocate multilateralism, oppose unilateralism and hegemonism, and guide the international community to jointly shape a more just and rational new international order and build a new type of international relations. We should be good at using various vivid and touching examples to show that China’s development itself is the greatest contribution to the world and contributes wisdom to solving human problems…
我国日益走近世界舞台中央， 有能力也有责任在全球事务中发挥更大作用， 同各国一道为解决全人类问题作出更大贡献。 要高举人类命运共同体大旗，依托我国发展的生动实践， 立足五千多年中华文明，全面阐述我国的发展观、文明观、安全观、 人权观、生态观、国际秩序观和全球治理观。要倡导多边主义， 反对单边主义、霸权主义， 引导国际社会共同塑造更加公正合理的国际新秩序， 建设新型国际关系。要善于运用各种生动感人的事例， 说明中国发展本身就是对世界的最大贡献、 为解决人类问题贡献了智慧…
Analysts who sought clues to a possible tactical reset in the language of the collective study session found encouragement in one phrase in particular: “[The Party] must focus on grasping the tone, being open and confident as well as having modesty and humility, striving to build a credible, lovable and respectable image of China.” Language about the need for China to expand its “circle of friends in international public opinion” (国际舆论朋友圈) added, for some, to the sense of a tonal change.
The word “lovable” was an obvious temptation…
Within the textual fabric of the news of the collective study session there is plenty to give pause: the characterization of the challenge at hand as a “public opinion struggle’ (舆论斗争), a term redolent of the Mao era; the persistently tone-deaf language about educating foreigners about the goodness of the CCP; the talk of mobilizing, funding and training and, importantly, ideologically assessing local leaders on their input in terms of international communication work, which hardly seems conducive to a broad change in tone. On the issue of broadening the “friend circle,” how can it escape notice that the next line is a reiteration of the “public opinion struggle”? In such a struggle, there are friends in the form of compliant media and apologists, and there are enemies in the form of recalcitrant journalists, academics and politicians who insist on criticism – exactly what this external push is designed to neutralize…
On the discussant, Fudan Professor Zhang Weiwei:
In a 2013 interview with Phoenix Weekly, “The Chinese No Longer Require the ‘American Dream’”, Zhang spoke glowingly of China’s achievements and the ways in which it has already surpassed the West. “We have learned a lot from the West and will continue to learn in the future, but we have a vision today that goes beyond the West,” he said. Importantly, he spoke of a coming era of “post-Western discourse” (后西方话语) in which the rising dominance of a “Chinese discourse system” (中国话语体系) should be expected.
The notion of a “Chinese discourse system” appears, in fact, in the announcement from the collective study session, and we should note that it has generally not been among the terminologies in the arena of external propaganda, soft power and so on. Here is the portion of the Phoenix Weekly interview in which Zhang discusses this emerging system and its implications for scholarship and the “new world order”:
Chinese intellectuals should no longer be subservient to the Western discourse, but should think independently and, with their own conscience, knowledge and patriotic spirit, absorb the wisdom of the world while rejecting Western neo-obscurantism (西方新蒙昧主义). They should jointly explore and construct a Chinese discourse system in the era of “post-Western discourse,” making their own contribution to the formation of a new world order.
Video of a recent People’s Daily interview with Zhang Weiwei, with English subtitles –张维为接受人民网采访：西方要有勇气了解中国模式如何运作_
Machine translation of the brief article:
On the afternoon of May 31, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee conducted the 30th collective study on strengthening China’s international communication capacity building. Professor Zhang Weiwei of Fudan University explained this problem and put forward some suggestions.
A few days ago, Zhang Weiwei accepted an exclusive interview with People’s Daily on the misunderstanding and misreading of China by the West and Sino-US relations. He said that understanding China is beneficial to the West itself, and they should have the courage to understand the operation mode of the Chinese model and the views of most Chinese people on their own country.
Zhang Weiwei pointed out that it is simply impossible to contain a country like China. On the issue of Sino-US relations, the best way is to carry out win-win cooperation and replace the so-called “mutually assured destruction or m.a.d.” with “mutually assured prosperity or m.a.p.”