Chinese state media has continued its attack on Australia, using a cartoon to accuse Scott Morrison’s government of being a “yes man” to the US.
On Monday, the China Daily, controlled by the Communist Party of China, re-shared a damning cartoon created last week which depicts Australia taking orders from the US to launch an attack on China, through a reference to the well-known story of Don Quixote.
Captioned ‘Yes man to one, liar to all’ on Twitter, renowned cartoonist Luo Jie illustrated Australia as Quixote’s loyal servant Sancho Panza, riding a donkey and taking orders from the US depicted as the mad knight as he charges towards a windmill, representing China.
The cartoon references the The Ingenious Knight of La Mancha, a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes, first published in the 1600s, which tells the story of a nobleman who goes mad after reading too many stories about chivalrous deeds and starts to fight imagined foes.
The story’s hero imagines himself fighting giants when he attacks windmills, which is the source of the expression “tilting at windmills”, meaning fighting imaginary enemies.
The publication’s decision to share the cartoon comes after more than a dozen Australian politicians raised concerns alongside other world leaders over China’s new security laws for Hong Kong, which pro-democracy lawmakers in the special administrative region called the end of the “one country, two systems” principle adopted after it was handed over to China from the UK in 1997.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said Australia was “deeply concerned” over the move, a statement that came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Beijing to “reconsider its disastrous proposal”.
China has become increasingly frustrated with Australia’s vocal stance on matters the US have attacked China over, notably the call for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
Another Chinese publication highly critical of Australia in recent weeks, The Global Times, published last week social media comments labelling Australia “the dog of the US”.
On Sunday, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned nations the decision to press ahead with the security laws was not for international debate.
“Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs and allow no external interference. Non-interference, as a basic norm of international relations, must be observed by all countries,” he said.
“The Central Government holds the primary and ultimate responsibility for national security in all sub-national administrative regions.
“This is the basic theory and principle underpinning national sovereignty and a common practice in countries around the globe.”
Australia’s vocal disapproval of such a move follows the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade earlier this month showing support for Taiwan to return to the World Health Assembly after it was previously blocked by China.
Paired with the Morrison government’s calls for a COVID-19 investigation, Australia has been perceived as a growing irritant to the Chinese government.
Hu Xijin, the outspoken editor of the Global Times, last month called Australia “chewing gum on the soles of China’s shoes”.
“Sometimes you have to find a stone to rub it down,” he said.
Earlier this month, Beijing's ambassador Cheng Jingye warned Chinese people would reconsider buying Australian beef if Mr Morrison continued calling for the investigation into the virus.
This was followed by China suspending imports from four Australian abattoirs in an escalation of trade tensions between the two nations.
The suspension came days before China announced plans to slap an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley, however Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud downplayed any link to Australia’s political calls, saying a decision from China from an anti-dumping investigation was due this month.
There are now concerns China could boycott Australia’s iron ore industry, the nation’s biggest export earner, predominantly supported by China.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.