The rapidly declining relations between Australia and China
China Trolls Australia With “Repugnant” Doctored Image, Refuses To Apologize
30 November, 2020
The developing China-Australia trade row which initially sprang out of Australia’s joining other countries in criticizing Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has just taken a bizarre and sinister turn.
It started early Monday when China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted a disturbing image to Twitter depicting an Aussie soldier about to slit the throat of a child in Afghanistan. The grinning soldier is depicted holding a bloody knife to the distressed child, who is seen holding a lamb, which is a symbol of innocence.
Australian leaders and media were quick to point out it is a doctored or “fake” image and demanded that Lijian remove it immediately, and that Twitter take action over the account.
“It is utterly outrageous and cannot be justified on any basis,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. “The Chinese government should be utterly ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world’s eyes.”
Morrison and others demanded a formal apology out of China over the “repugnant” image and tweet. But China’s foreign ministry refused calls to apologize, instead doubling down on its charge that Australia appears less ashamed over its egregious war crimes in Afghanistan and more concerned over public embarrassment based on a tweet.
It comes after earlier this month Australia was rocked by scandal when a detailed investigation known as the Brereton War Crimes report revealed that Aussie special forces were implicated in up to 39 or more “unlawful killings” of Afghan civilians and prisoners. At least 13 Australian soldiers are facing criminal charges after horrific details emerged that they were killing random civilians essentially for sport, in something they called “blooding” – or initiating a special forces new join into war by orchestrating their first kill and then covering it up.
Here’s how China responded to the demands for an apology:
“It is the Australian government who should feel ashamed for their soldiers killing innocent Afghan civilians,” said Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, when asked about Morrison’s comments.
The image posted by her colleague shows people’s “indignation,” said Hua, speaking at a regular news conference in Beijing on Monday. Whether it will be taken down is a matter between Twitter and the Australian government, she said.
It is indeed clear that the tweet was meant to highlight the shocking history of well-documented war crimes by Australia in central Asia, and is the latest in Canberra being forced to play on the defensive with China, after major commodities exports earlier this month were blocked and/or were hit with huge tariffs by China.
Zhao had written on Twitter alongside the image: “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, & call for holding them accountable.”
As of late in the day Monday (local time), the tweet is still up and has not been blocked or taken down by Twitter.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Monday posted on Twitter a cartoon circulating on Chinese social media platforms condemning Australian troops’ murder of 39 innocent Afghans. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was very angry about it, accused Zhao of offending his country, and demanded an apology from China.
I was really shocked and disgusted. How could this Australian PM be so ridiculously arrogant to pick on Chinese FM spokesperson’s condemnation against the murder of innocent people? Is the murder fake news? Shouldn’t that illustrator have made the cartoon? Didn’t the Chinese FM spokesperson have the right to repost that cartoon to censure Australian troops’ murder of innocent Afghan civilians?
The Australian government’s many moves have made Australia more and more like a rural-urban continuum in Western civilization, where rogues and outlaws run wild. Whenever the leader of the West is up to something bad, it just needs to come to this place and hire some hatchet men. Afghanistan is so far away from Australia geographically, but Australian soldiers have killed as many as 39 innocent people there.
Morrison should kneel down on the ground, slap himself in the face, and kowtow to apologize to Afghans – all these should be done in a live telecast. No matter what harsh words people use on them for the murder, the Australian government should have accepted it. How dare they talk back and say they are offended!
The Morrison administration is the political hatchet man hired by the US akin to a mafia. There is no remedy in Western culture that could save them. They should be sent to the temples in Thailand, Myanmar or China’s Zhoushan, get their hair shaved and chant scriptures, and be taught not to kill people first thing first. They should recite The Analects and be taught that one should not impose on others what he himself does not desire. Such an education of Eastern civilization is expected to heal their evil minds and murderous mentality.
Australian troops and fleets should leave Asia and the coastal waters of the Asian continent. More precisely, they should run as far as they can. The Morrison administration is making Australia provocative and wanting a spanking.
The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times. email@example.com
The editor of China’s state-run English language newspaper, Hu Xijin, has posted an incendiary piece calling Prime Minister Scott Morrison “ridiculously arrogant” and saying he should “slap himself in the face” on live television.
The searing editorial comes after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted a doctored image on Twitter showing an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of a young child holding a lamb.
“Don’t be afraid, we are coming to bring you peace,” the caption reads.
The image references the Brereton report that alleged elite Australian soldiers had carried out war crimes including the killings of 39 Afghans in a series of incidents that are being referred for special investigation and potential prosecution.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison reacted swiftly and unequivocally to the image being shared on social media, calling it “truly repugnant”, calling for an apology from the Chinese government and asking the social media giant to take it down.
“It is deeply offensive to every Australian, every Australian who has served in that uniform, every Australian who serves in that uniform today, everyone who has pulled on that uniform and served with Australians overseas from whatever nation, that they have done that. It is utterly outrageous and it cannot be justified on any basis whatsoever,” he said in a virtual press conference on Monday.
“The Chinese Government should be totally ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world’s eyes.”
Australia’s winemakers are scrambling to find new buyers around the world after China imposed hefty tariffs on the industry, effectively cutting it off from its most important export market.
Beijing’s decision last week to impose tariffs of up to 212% on Australian wine imports has endangered business with mainland China, according to Tony Battaglene, CEO of Australian Grape and Wine, a national association.
Battaglene works with around 800 wine producers in Australia who have “built their businesses” around exporting to China and are now left with no backup plan, he added.
“We were surprised, we were shocked,” Battaglene told CNN Business. “Having the extent of these interim tariffs, I mean essentially they will close the market to Australian bottled wine, to premium wine, in China. There’s no way that we can compete at those levels.”
China’s Commerce Ministry announced Friday that its decision was made after finding preliminary evidence of dumping. Australian officials have bitterly protested the move, saying that China has been unable to provide proof.
The wine war is taking place against the backdrop of a wider deterioration in relations. Australia has upset China this year by calling for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Beijing later targeted Canberra over trade, namely by suspending some imports of beef and slapping heavy tariffs on barley.
The tariffs on wine, which took effect on Saturday, have forced businesses to scramble. After the announcement, some container ships that were en route to mainland China had to turn back to Australia, according to Battaglene.
“Orders are being canceled, orders are being suspended,” he said. “No one’s willing to … take extra import duties just to get it through customs. Essentially the market will be closed to us.”
On Monday, Australia’s leading winemaker, Treasury Wine Estates (TSRYF) (TWE), announced a contingency plan. It said it would start redirecting its shipments away from China to other markets, such as the United States, Europe and other Asian countries, after finding out its products would be slapped with tariffs of 169.3%.
Some of the wine TWE is considering reallocating had already arrived at a port in Shanghai, according to CEO Tim Ford. “We will reassess [what to do with] that product,” he said on an analyst call Monday.
“We are extremely disappointed to find our business, our partners’ businesses and the Australian wine industry in this position,” Ford added. “Our attention’s very clearly on building our business outside of China over the next period of time.”
The plan wasn’t enough to reassure investors. TWE shares closed down 6.9% in Sydney on Monday, following an 11.3% drop on Friday, when the tariffs were announced.
China is by far the biggest importer of Australian wine, according to Wine Australia, a trade organization backed by the country’s government. In the most recent financial year, which ended this September, mainland China alone made up 39% of Australia’s total wine exports by value, the group said.
Going forward, more “Australian winemakers will now be forced to consider alternative markets for export sales,” Australian Grape and Wine said in a statement.
On Monday, Ford called on the Australian government to help businesses find a solution.
“Left unresolved, there will be a significant impact,” he said. “Things may change, and we’ll deal with that as they change, but we’re sort of dealing with the cards that we know at the moment, without a strategy of hope if you like. Because a strategy of hope is not a very smart strategy.”