China’s state-run Global Times on Thursday blamed “Western white” racism for Australians’ objection to the Chinese foreign ministry publishing a doctored image of an Australian soldier holding a knife to a child’s throat.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted the image to his official Twitter account on November 29.
“Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, &call for holding them accountable [sic],” Zhao wrote in an accompanying message.
Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, &call for holding them accountable. pic.twitter.com/GYOaucoL5D
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) November 30, 2020
The post was China’s response to a recently released Australian military inquiry into alleged war crimes committed by members of Australia’s special forces in Afghanistan from 2005-2016. The report recommends that 19 troops be criminally investigated for the “unlawful killing” of 39 prisoners and civilians.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison denounced the fake photo as an “outrageous and disgusting slur” at a press conference on Monday. He demanded a formal apology for the post by the Chinese government and that Twitter remove the image from its platform.
“The logic behind Morrison’s moves is quite simple: The West can do anything it wants, but non-Westerners are not allowed,” the Global Times wrote on December 4.
“This is the consistent style of Western whites: The West must always be in a superior status and position. With such a mentality, they never accept the idea that other races can enjoy equality. Feeling superior to others, they believe the West must take control of each and every thing, be it the economy or technology [sic],” the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece continued.
“Morrison didn’t say anything when European and American media outlets reported Australian troops’ misconduct with words like ‘war crimes’ (as the criticism came from the West). But he reacted fiercely when a Chinese diplomat condemned the brutal murder,” the Global Times noted.
Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin defended the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s publishing of the image in question on November 29:
It is a popular cartoon that condemns the Australian Special Forces ’s brutal murder of 39 Afghan civilians. On what ground does Morrison feel angry over the use of this cartoon by the spokesperson of Chinese FM? It’s ridiculous and shameless that he demanded China to apologize. pic.twitter.com/QkBSXyf1uY
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) November 30, 2020
The newspaper further defended the image on Monday, dismissing Canberra’s demand for an apology as “an attempt to divert public attention from Australia’s inhumane crimes in Afghanistan.”
Morrison at Monday’s press conference acknowledged that diplomatic and economic tensions between Australia and China have escalated in recent months, but insisted that “this is not how you deal with them.”
The prime minister argued that both Canberra and Beijing must engage in direct dialogue, conducted between government ministers and leaders, to diffuse the situation.
“And despite this terribly offensive post today, I would ask again and call on China to re-engage in that dialogue,” Morrison appealed.
“This is how countries must deal with each other to ensure that we can deal with any issues in our relationship, consistent with our national interests and respect for each other’s sovereignty. Not engaging in this sort of deplorable behavior,” the prime minister added.