Australia: Scott Morrison asks China to apologize for misleading tweet


A tweet exacerbates the diplomatic crisis between Australia and China: Because the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing spread a manipulated image on Twitter, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison demands an apology.
The apparently edited picture is supposed to depict an Australian soldier holding a bloody knife to the throat of an Afghan child and grinning. Underneath it says: “Don’t worry, we are coming to bring you peace”. The picture is underlaid with the Australian and Afghan flags.

China’s Foreign Office spokesman Zhao Lijian shared the photo montage on his official Twitter account on Monday and wrote that he was “shocked by the murder of Afghan civilians and prisoners by Australian soldiers.” China strongly condemns such acts and calls for the soldiers to be “held accountable”.

Australia admits dozen of war crimes in Afghanistan

In mid-November, after several years of investigations, the Australian Army admitted that Australian soldiers had allegedly committed war crimes while on missions in Afghanistan. Members of an elite unit are said to have killed at least 39 Afghan civilians and non-combatants. The country’s supreme general, Angus Campbell, apologized to the Afghan people for the deeds and called for the suspects to be prosecuted for war crimes. 13 soldiers are also to be released from military service.

Nevertheless: Australian Prime Minister Morrison does not want to accept criticism from China. In a press conference, he described the picture posted by Zhao as “really offensive” and asked Twitter to delete the post. “It’s utterly outrageous and unjustifiable,” said Morrison. “The Chinese government should be deeply ashamed of this post. It diminishes their standing in the world. ”He also asked Beijing to apologize.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry immediately rejected the criticism. Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the Australian government should be ashamed “that their soldiers killed innocent Afghan civilians.” The picture that her colleague posted depicts the “outrage” of the people.

With the dispute over the tweet, Sino-Australian relations hit a new low. Since the outbreak of the corona pandemic, Australia has been calling for an independent investigation into the causes in China, which the government in Beijing has rejected. China’s increasing restrictions on civil liberties in Hong Kong also sparked disputes between the two countries. The conflict also strains common trade relations.
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