The U.S. Embassy in China on Monday released a set of new WeChat sticker emojis depicting a goofy bald eagle cartoon conveying a range of emotions.
But Weibo users and China watchers were quick to single out one of the emojis, which appears to mock a former Ministry of Foreign Affairs official known for his “wolf warrior” approach to diplomacy.
“Wait and see” the emoji text reads, showing “Eagle Xiaomei” prying its eyes open in an apparent display of dismay.
The phrase “wait and see,” many noted, echoed one of the catchphrases of Zhao Lijian, the former MFA spokesperson known for his harsh, blunt responses to any criticism of China.
During former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last year, Zhao told the press that the world would have to “wait and see” what countermeasures China would impose if Pelosi would “dare” to visit the island.
WeChat stickers are an integral component of the app, with new designs often released to mark momentous occasions or new fandoms. In this case, the U.S. Embassy released these new designs to celebrate the Spring Festival, according to its official Weibo page.
Not all of the stickers appeared to take aim at “wolf warrior” diplomacy. Some stickers just included phrases like “Congratulations on the new Spring!” (referencing the Lunar New Year) or simply “Hi.”
The U.S. State Department did not immediately reply to Semafor’s request for comment.
The View From Weibo
The post announcing the new stickers on Weibo -- China’s version of Twitter -- was shared nearly 35,000 times. Many were receptive to the emojis, while noting the apparent reference to the “wolf warrior.”
“Teacher Zhao?” one user commented. “It appears a little too self-aware.”
Others were not as fond of the apparent jab.
“Please stop this behavior of berating my brother Lijian,” one user wrote.
“Is this really how you spend your money?” another user asked. “It feels like it’s only gotten worse since you started.”