Zoo time at Operation Circe

How the Wolf Warrior was invented

Anna Chen – 16 Sep 2023

Zoo Time at Operation Circe by Anna Chen pic Zhao Lijian

Zoo Time at Operation Circe: How the Wolf Warrior was invented was first published by Asia Times, 5 September 2023

When China’s vice-premier and top trade-war negotiator Liu He arrived in Washington in May 2019* to finalise the trade agreement with the USA at the end of tortuous negotiations, neither he nor his hapless opposite number Robert Lighthizer realised he’d walked into an ambush sprung by the capricious president. Even as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the trade war was on hold, and Wall Street broke out the bubbly, Donald Trump harshed their mellow with yet another round of tariffs and trade blocks. 

Gloating that he’d compelled China to buy huge amounts of agricultural products they didn’t need, it was yet another humiliation through which the dignified Chinese politician stoically ploughed in the interests of his country and the global economy.

Accusations had been blasted at China in a character-assassination broadside by both sides of the House from which neither facts nor history could save it. China, not Trump, had reneged on the trade deal. China was stealing IP. It was a currency manipulator, despite the fact that, far from undervaluing the yuan, China was spending vast amounts of its reserves propping it up. China, not the top one percent of the US that now owned as much as the bottom 90 percent, was the cause of America’s misery.

You might suspect, from all the invective in high places, that the US didn’t actually want a stable relationship with its successful partner. China may have saved the world from America’s Great Crash of 2008 when the capitalist system itself was imploding but, suddenly, it was decreed that the rising superpower could do no right and the USA no wrong.

But still China kept a stiff upper lip.

Insult after insult from slap-happy politicians eager to outdo each other drew comment that China was outstandingly polite, exemplary and grown-up, if a tad too passive. A nostalgic fondness grew for old-school diplomacy rather than shoot-from-the-lip grandstanding.

Which was frustrating for the stone-throwers in their glass houses.

For them it was all one big Yo Mama case for the prosecution, with no defence permitted for the country that hadn’t had a war in over 40 years. Western media and politicians made hay with the 2019 Hong Kong riots trashing the city, despite zero protesters being killed in the same year that US cops somehow managed to kill over a thousand civilians. Later that year, a “strange pneumonia” mysteriously erupted in the central transport hub of Wuhan, marking the start of the pandemic.

To everyone’s amazement — part dignity, part rabbit in the headlights — China didn’t buckle even when the far-right Usual Suspects immediately accused it of creating the virus in the lab. Nor did China return the insults, instead turning the cheek to every barb.

After initial fumbles, not only did the Chinese draw up a remedial roadmap and eradicate the coronavirus by Day 43 of an unprecedented 76-day lockdown, they identified, sequenced and shared the genome with the world within days of its discovery. However, if anyone thought America would take stock and say, “Well done, old chap, you came through like a champ,” they were in for a shock.

The leader of the free world, largely aped by the UK, had already closed the US pandemic team and their Beijing CDC office. He delayed action; played down the virus; called it a hoax; held super-spreader rallies; allowed concerts and sports events; misdiagnosed early Covid deaths as ‘flu’; suggested injecting disinfectant, and pumped up the markets into the Mother of All Bubbles while insisting everything was fine.

Then the Black Swan, awaited by a nervous financial press for months, swooped in the day after politicians sold their stocks at all-time-highs, did the damage and disappeared back into the ether. The Trump Pump over and his Phase-One trade deal signed, the president U-turned on Covid in March, declaring an emergency, stating, “I don’t accept responsibility at all,” and launched his “Wuhan Kung Flu” attack.

One Chinese minister finally had enough. Having endured several years of non-stop verbals, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lijian Zhao dared to talk out of turn and posted THAT tweet, raising the Wuhan Military Games as a possible point of infection, opening as it had on 18 October 2019: the same day as Event 201, the table-top pandemic exercise laid on in New York by various illustrious institutions.


Primed, locked and loaded, the western media exploded in an entirely uncoordinated wave of outrage as one. Montgomery Burns might as well have howled, “Unleash the hounds!” In one short pithy Tweet, China was transformed from placid scapegoat into Wolf Warrior for defending itself on this one occasion. And the points made remained uninvestigated. Overnight, Americans who’d been strangers to history and the world outside their borders, instantly knew everything there was to know about China and that “Sin Chang” which they continually fail to find on a map.

Articles blared out lurid “Wolf Warrior diplomacy” headlines in a joint “Gotcha!”. Old tropes linking target groups to filth and pestilence were wheeled out, Secretary of State Pompeo demagoguing that “China has a history of infecting the world.”

Debate was debased to the point where Fox News broadcast a rant extolling “Type-A men”‘s desire to “sit on a throne of Chinese skulls”. People now talk openly of nuking cities-full of people into glass, as if this was normal only five years ago. 

And lo! We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Psyops successful.

This, children, is how the wolf warrior got his fangs. Drawn on by hawks with crayon.

In classic Greek mythology, Circe was a sorceress who turned men into beasts, a neat trick if you are prepping your country for conflict. Not only are America’s opponents being dehumanised as fierce, bloodthirsty creatures, but to entertain the new barbarism, the population of the world’s most advanced nation is being dragged to new depths by state magicians and their little helpers on bloated budgets who know how to flip everyone’s amygdala en masse.

The more you hate, the less you think.

The tactic of dehumanising human beings in order to eliminate them is as old as Greek myth, even if the closest the US gets to Homer is Homer Simpson. First we had the Thucydides Trap, then ancient Greek gods and monsters. Is the West plagiarising the cradle of western civilisation for inspiration in its desperation?

This potent force has been tapped by western psychological warfare and financed by President Biden’s $500 million propaganda bounty on China’s head. Operation Circe seems to have succeeded in turning men into beasts.  

First, we had to destroy the village in order to save it. But we never thought the village would be ours. Or that the ‘beasts’ would be us.

* EDIT NOTE: The date of Liu He’s visit to the US was originally given as May 2018. This piece has been corrected to May 2019.

READ MORE: For the timeline of America’s 21st Century war on China, see Shakedown

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