Beijing Spokesperson Compares Persecuted China to Simba from 'The Lion King'

China's foreign ministry has likened Beijing to Simba from Disney's The Lion King and described recent criticisms of its policies as "malicious smears."

Spokesperson Hua Chunying made the analogy at a daily press briefing on Thursday when questioned about China's recent "Wolf Warrior" approach to international relations.

The phrase has origins in two patriotic Chinese films of the same name and now refers to an assertive and aggressive style of diplomacy, where the threat of military intervention and economic sanctions trumps soft power.

Hua's colleague, Zhao Lijian, was recently accused of being a "Wolf Warrior" diplomat when he started a fresh row with Australia by tweeting a doctored image showing an Australian soldier killing a young Afghan child.

China's foreign ministry refused to apologize and later doubled down on their support for Zhao as ties between Canberra and Beijing reached new lows following recent trade disputes.

Hua called the label another part of America's "China containment policy," referring to the strongly held belief that the U.S. seeks to ultimately curb Beijing's growth and influence in Asia.

She said: "By making China wear the [Wolf Warrior] hat, some seek to threaten and blackmail China into forgoing its right to speak the truth.

"I wonder whether those making baseless accusations about China conducting Wolf Warrior diplomacy have ever seen The Lion King? Have they seen how Simba grew and matured under suspicion, censure and attack?"

"Faced with malign malicious smears and abuse, China will respond and state facts," Hua said. "If that's Wolf Warrior diplomacy, then why not be a Wolf Warrior?"

At the briefing, Hua announced China would be taking countermeasures against the U.S. after the State Department hit 14 senior Chinese legislative officials with sanctions, including asset freezing and travel bans, over Beijing's anti-democracy policies in Hong Kong.

Reciprocal sanctions were placed on high-level American administrative and legislative officials, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations. U.S. diplomats would also no longer be able to enter Hong Kong and Macau without a visa, she told reporters.

However, the names of the senior U.S. officials to be sanctioned by China were not disclosed.

The Chinese leadership's relationship with the current administration in Washington is all but certain to end on a sour note with just weeks to go before President Donald Trump leaves the White House.

Tensions between the world's two largest economies are expected to ease under President-elect Joe Biden, despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stating Monday that the bipartisan perception of the Chinese Communist Party meant that the current anti-China trend was irreversible.

China's National Flag Flies in Hong Kong
File photo: China's national flag. Yu Chun Christopher Wong/Getty Images