Canberra: In a sharp escalation of a dispute between China and Australia, Chinese foreign ministry on Monday shared a ‘doctored image’ of an alleged Australian war crime in Afghanistan.
This did not go well with Australia, which in a sharp rebuke, said that the Chinese government should be totally ashamed of the ‘truly offensive’ post, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian shared the image on his Twitter handle
Monday morning in which a special forces soldier is seen slitting the throat of an Afghan child with a knife and its head wrapped in an Australian flag. “Don’t be afraid we are coming to bring you peace,” the image states.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian tweeted that he was shocked by the murder of Afghan civilians and prisoners by Australian soldiers.
“We strongly condemn such acts and call for holding them accountable,” he said.
The illustration was created by Wuheqilin, a self-styled Chinese “wolf warrior” artist, who came to prominence for his pro-Beijing illustrations during the Hong Kong protests last year, the Herald further reported.
In his strongest comments against the Chinese government since he became Prime Minister, Morrison said that the post diminishes China in the world’s eyes and demanded an apology from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world’s eyes,” he said “It is an absolutely outrageous and disgusting slur. Australia is seeking an apology from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are seeking it be removed from Twitter,” he was quoted by the Herald.
The post comes at a time when Australia is facing criticism after the government-initiated Brereton report found Australian special forces soldiers allegedly committed 39 murders in Afghanistan.
The Chinese Communist Party last week criticised Australia over the post.
“These reports point to the hypocrisy of some western countries who like to consider themselves as guardians of human rights and freedom,” Zhao had said.
Canberra has been locked in an ongoing trade war with Beijing for seven months, which has seen China slap sanctions on various Australian products.
China has unofficially banned Australian imports of coal, sugar, barley, lobsters, wine, copper and log timber since the start of November. It has also imposed anti-dumping duties on barley earlier this year.
Beijing has also suspended beef imports from five major meat processing plants in Queensland and New South Wales in May.
The relationship between the two countries has deteriorated after Australia pushed for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus in April without consulting Beijing, widening cracks in the relationship that had been growing since Canberra banned China’s Huawei Technologies Co. from helping build its 5G telecommunications network two years ago.
China also seems to be infuriated by the Australian participation in the Malabar naval exercise earlier this month.