China sometimes seems to send contradictory and confusing signals in foreign policy. While China is often eager to promote its soft power, why do some Chinese officials spread messages that hurt rather than promote China’s international image? Why would the Chinese diplomatic narrative become more assertive in recent years? This talk will analyse China’s diplomatic signals in multiple domains. The empirical examples include China’s regional diplomacy as well as its ‘Twitter diplomacy’. This talk will identify patterns of China’s diplomatic signalling and will also provide preliminary explanations. China has incentives to project different images. Chinese international efforts to project a strong image are predominantly aimed at the domestic audience. Domestic politics and competing expectations will continue constraining the effectiveness of China’s diplomatic signalling.