President Xi Jinping said this week that China needs to improve the way it tells its "news" to global audiences as it seeks a "global voice" that reflects the growing state of the world's second-largest economy, Xinhua news agency reported.
"We must pay attention to understanding tone, speak freely and confidently but also be polite and humble, and strive to create a credible, lovable and dignified image of China," Xi said on Monday at a Communist Party's reading conference, according to Xinhua.
He added that it was important for China to improve the way it presented its accounts around the world in order to "make friends."
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The comments suggest that there may be a change in China's approach as key relations and powers - especially the United States - continue to deteriorate.
They can also suggest from the so-called wolf war diplomacy, in which Beijing has placed itself firmly, and in opposition, on a global level.
But reviving the Chinese way, and its image around the world, would be easier said than done.
China has faced criticism for its handling of the coronavirus epidemic, the treatment of its Uyghur Muslim population, and Hong Kong's independence struggle. Beijing has denied allegations of human rights abuses and rejected requests for concealment of the coronavirus, all while arguing with Washington over trade, Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month China had recently "acted aggressively abroad" and had behaved "in a perverse manner." In March, in his inaugural address on foreign policy, Blinken said China represents "the world's largest political test of the 21st century."
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Xi's language marks a "fundamental transformation" away from Chinese speech that was previously strong, said Dr. Yu Jie, a senior Chinese researcher at London's Chatham House think tank.
"It is clear that President Xi is concerned about the very deteriorating relationship between China and many Western countries. Therefore, China must re-establish its public consultation process," he told NBC News.
"This gives an indication that China's top leadership considers the rhetoric of the organizational complex to be lost."
The scope of the problems and the depth of the allegations against Beijing could be misleading if China puts a good case before the international public opinion tribunal.
Accepting Xi's calls for a change of tone, China's Global Times newspaper continued to oppose the government on Tuesday, accusing Westerners of "using their opportunity to challenge the public opinion polls to begin discriminating against China and creating a negative image of China.
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Beijing may have reasons to be concerned about its global position other than power corridors.
A 2020 study of 14 countries conducted by the Pew Research Center, which includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada, found that China's "negative views" had risen sharply over the past year. The study also found widespread criticism about China's management of the coronavirus epidemic.
Negative views on China have risen sharply in the UK and Australia, with 81 percent responding to a negative view of China, up 24 percent from last year.
Beijing has feathers disturbed in Australia and the European Union due to trade, and clashed with the UK against Hong Kong - a former British colony.
Evidence of Xi's desire to make China more attractive will be pudding, according to Peter Trubowitz, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.
"Most Americans and a growing number of Europeans will not pay much attention to Xi's words, rather than what China does to move forward at home and abroad," Trubowitz told News. "For many Beijing critics, this is where the bar meets the road."
He added that Xi's announcement of a change of tone was possible and represented "little recognition that Beijing has lost embassies around the world, especially since the outbreak began."