Australia Doctored image of Australian soldier described as China's attempt to win over conspiracy theorists, other Beijing bureaucrats

23:31  30 november  2020
23:31  30 november  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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China ' s Foreign Ministry spokesman tweeted a fake image showing an Australian soldier murdering a child. Scott Morrison is demanding a formal apology from the Chinese Government over the image . Last week China said it "strongly condemned" the actions of Australian soldiers who allegedly

China is refusing to apologise for one of its officials posting a graphic image of an Australian soldier , demanding instead that Australia do some "soul China ' s Foreign Ministry spokesman tweeted a picture showing an Australian soldier threatening to kill a child. Scott Morrison has demanded the

a messy bed: This image was tweeted by Chinese Government spokesman Zhao Lijian on Monday. It has been blurred by the ABC. (Twitter: Lijian Zhao) © Provided by ABC NEWS This image was tweeted by Chinese Government spokesman Zhao Lijian on Monday. It has been blurred by the ABC. (Twitter: Lijian Zhao)

A controversial and graphic social media post by a senior Chinese official is being described as an attempt to win over conspiracy theorists and Beijing bureaucrats.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijiang posted the doctored image of an Australian soldier holding a bloody knife to the throat of an Afghan child on Monday, in an attempt to criticise Australia over the damning Brereton war crimes inquiry.

The investigation had recommended 19 current and serving Australian special forces soldiers face criminal investigation, finding there was "credible information" to suggest they had murdered at least 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners.

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As China - Australia relations have plummeted this year, Zhao [ China sharply ramps up trade conflict with Australia over political grievances]. Zhao told a daily press Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, called the tweet a “falsified image ” and “repugnant” and asked Twitter to remove it.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for an apology from China over the foreign [+] ministry official's tweet. Early on Monday morning, China ’ s Zhao had tweeted from his official account that Beijing was “shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers

Prime Minister Scott Morrison labelled the post "repugnant", demanding it be removed along with an apology from Beijing.

Neither was forthcoming, with the Chinese Foreign Ministry digging in and accusing Australia of trying to shirk its responsibility to hold ADF personnel to account for their actions.

Natasha Kassam, a research fellow at the Lowy Institute, said Chinese diplomats were increasingly turning to western social media platforms to wage a propaganda war with other countries.

"It's not what we would have considered to be usual, even just a year ago, where China and Chinese officials had almost no diplomatic presence on Twitter," she told the ABC's AM program.

"But today, Chinese diplomats on Twitter look very different — there are hundreds of them, that spend a lot of their time bickering with Western officials, promoting conspiracies about the coronavirus and often calling out what they perceive to be human rights abuses in other countries."

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China has reacted particularly sharply to cartoons and other images that distort national symbols such as its flag, though the image in Mr. Zhao’ s tweet shows the Australian flag being used to restrain the child. It rarely names China as the target of its actions, but the implication is clear.

The image shows a soldier with Australian flags on his helmet and right arm, holding a bloodied knife to the throat of a child whose face is covered by a semi-transparent blue cloth. The child is holding a lamb, with the image superimposed on an Australian flag covering an Afghan flag made of puzzle

Ms Kassam said there were "layers of irony" in the approach.

"Of course, Twitter is blocked in China, and so these officials are not talking to their own public but to the rest of the world," she said.

"But at the same time, they're often using Twitter to call out hypocrisy, or what they see as hypocrisy in other countries.

"Of course, that original hypocrisy is that they're using a medium that they do censor in China."

Beijing diplomats in 'race to outdo one another'

Former diplomat turned Liberal MP Dave Sharma welcomed Prime Minister Scott Morrison's swift rebuke of China over the image, but questioned the actual audience for the post.

"Chinese diplomats around the world seem to be in a competitive race to sort of outbid and outdo one another with the kind of outrageousness of the statements that they're making," Mr Sharma said.

"And this seems to fit one of those categories — the audience often seems to be more in Beijing than it is in the country they're actually directing it towards."

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Australia demands apology from China after Beijing creates 'repugnant' fake soldier photo. AUSTRALIA has demanded an apology from China after a Beijing official posted a sickening fake image of an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child.

Australia has demanded China apologise for posting a fake picture on a government Twitter account that depicted an Australian soldier murdering an Afghan child. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Beijing should be "utterly ashamed" for sharing the "repugnant" image . It comes amid escalating

The post came at a time when many China analysts described the relationship between Canberra and Beijing as being at its lowest ebb.

Late last week, Australian wine exports were slapped with massive tariffs, after months of Chinese trade sanctions and controls being imposed on a wide range of other Australian products.

Australian ministers have struggled for months to get their Chinese counterparts to even return their phone calls.

The Chinese Embassy in Canberra had also revealed a list of 14 issues it had with how Australia was managing its affairs, in an attempt to shift the blame for the souring of the partnership.

Mr Sharma argued that despite the increase in tensions between the two countries, Australia was acting appropriately in calling out China's behaviour in a measured fashion.

"I don't think we need to get in the gutter or match China's rhetoric with our own — I don't think that's necessary, I don't think it's reflective of our national character and I don't think it's how we conduct diplomacy," he said.

"You get sometimes in the media commentary, people seem to hold out that there's some sort of silver bullet or a magic reset button that we push here — there isn't.

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"China is a vastly different actor to what it was 20 years ago, even to what it was 10 years ago, and it's not just Australia that's having to come to terms with that. It's the whole world."

Despite criticism from Labor about the Coalition's handling of the relationship, some within the party's ranks are speaking out about China's demands.

Senator Kimberley Kitching is a member of the International Parliamentary Alliance on China. The group is made up of politicians from a range of parties and countries, speaking out about Beijing's behaviour on the world stage.

She believed kowtowing to China's demands would undermine Australia's core values.

"I think, not only the tweet, that very unfortunate tweet, but the list of 14 grievances, offends all of the pillars of our democracy," Senator Kitching said.

"You think about the free press, well we couldn't have that under those 14 grievances.

"We couldn't have a really around rule of law, we couldn't have the rights of minorities being protected, we couldn't have freedom of association, and frankly, we wouldn't be able to have the right to disagree with the government, or the right to an alternate view."

Video: China's behaviour is doing its own people 'a great disservice' (Sky News Australia)

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