"A wave of war propaganda".
That's the blistering assessment from Chinese state media which on Wednesday accused Australian media of a concerted campaign of misinformation.
And its latest targets are the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age following Nine Newspapers' new series Red Alert assessing the likelihood of a war with China "pushed the momentum to a new level".
Citing one of its go-to Sino-Australian experts, the Global Times said Nine Newspapers' coverage that suggested Australia must be ready for war within three years was the latest addition to a "disinformation campaign".
"The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have gone the extra mile," it said.
"They have adopted the same front-page picture, showing 13 aircraft flying from China, which was marked in red with the Chinese flag. The whole background is also filled with red colour. Quite apparently, they want to portray China's image as an 'invader'."
There was a similar damning assessment from within Australia, with former prime minister Paul Keating describing the new content series as the “most egregious and provocative news presentation of any newspaper”.
When approached by Yahoo News Australia, Nine Newspapers declined to comment on the Global Times' response to its recent China coverage.
The Global Times accused Australian media of becoming a tool for the US to ensure Sino-Australian relations do not continue to improve under the Albanese government.
"[The US] wants Australia to be its own stronghold in a future possible war with China, and hopes there is no going back for China-Australian ties. If hyping up the "China threat" through Rupert Murdoch's media is not enough, the anti-China propaganda must continue on other media outlets."
Australian media accused of pushing 'imaginary war'
Sky News Australia faced a similar scathing opinion piece over its 'Are We Ready for War?' documentary aired last month, which the Global Times said shared the theatrics of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Sky News told Yahoo News, Beijing rejected any chance to respond to concerns in the documentary and said concerns over a conflict are "very real".
On Wednesday, the Global Times said Australian media outlets are "bombarding the public with misleading information by hyping up an imaginary war with China, as if a storm is about to come imminently".
The idea of engaging in a war with China has been put to Australians in recent years by the Morrison government, namely former defence minister Peter Dutton. He repeatedly warned the country could be forced to engage its military resources to protect peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, particularly Taiwan's desire to remain a democratic, independent state.
He was repeatedly accused by Beijing of unfairly hyping China's threat as well as trying to make last year's federal election a khaki one.
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