1 Dec 2020

China accuses Australia of stoking nationalism in response to fake Afghan tweet

8:46 pm on 1 December 2020

China has hit back at the Australian Government, accusing it of attempting to "stoke domestic nationalism" by demanding an apology for a tweet depicting an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian takes a question at the daily media briefing in Beijing on April 8, 2020.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. Photo: AFP

Beijing has already rejected demands to apologise for the image, which was shared by China's foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, on Monday.

Now, the Chinese embassy in Canberra has issued a fresh statement accusing the Australian Government of trying to deflect attention from atrocities committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.

The embassy has also suggested the Federal Government is trying to stoke nationalism in Australia.

"We would like to further stress the following: The rage and roar of some Australian politicians and media is nothing but misreading of, and overreaction to Mr Zhao's tweet," a spokesperson said.

"The accusations made are simply to serve two purposes.

"One is to deflect public attention from the horrible atrocities by certain Australian soldiers.

"The other is to blame China for the worsening bilateral ties."

Last week China confirmed it would impose a 200 percent tariff on Australian wine while it conducted an anti-dumping investigation.

"All of this is obviously not helpful to the resetting of the bilateral relationship," the spokesperson said.

"It's our advice that the Australian side face up to the crimes committed by the Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, hold those perpetrators accountable and bring justice to victims."

On the release of the Brereton report into alleged war crimes, Australian Defence Force chief General Angus Campbell offered an unreserved apology to the people of Afghanistan for soldiers' actions.

He also said soldiers accused of committing war crimes would be dealt with under Australia's justice system and other disciplinary action would be taken on a "case by case" basis, but that nothing was off the table.

The embassy also confirmed the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Frances Adamson, had contacted the Chinese ambassador, Cheng Jingye.

"The ambassador refuted the unwarranted accusations as absolutely unacceptable," the spokesperson said.


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