China refuses to apologise over 'repugnant' tweet targeting Aussie soldiers

WARNING - DISTURBING CONTENT: A Chinese official has defended the actions of her colleague who tweeted a doctored image of an Australian soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan child and responded to the fake image Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described as “offensive” and “outrageous” and “deplorable”.

In the first government public response since Mr Morrison demanded an apology over the fake image, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stood firm and delivered a powerful response broadcast on ABC News.

“Some Australian soldiers committed serious crimes in Afghanistan,” she said.

“The details are appalling and shocking including men and boys who were shot dead all with their throats slit while blindfolded.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying speaks during a briefing at the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying is refusing to apologise for the doctored image released by a college that shows an Australia soldier slitting the throat of a child. Source: AAP

‘Cold blood murder of innocent civilians’

Ms Chunying said she interpreted Australia’s response to the image as a justification of the “cold blood murder of innocent civilians” and called on the Australian government to officially apologise to the Afghan people.

“These cruel crimes have been condemned by the international community. The Australian side has reacted so strongly to my colleague’s Twitter, does that mean that they think the cold blood murder of Afghan innocent civilians is justified while other people’s condemnation of such crimes are not justified?

“Afghan lives matter. The Australian government should bring the culprits to justice and offer an official apology to the Afghan people and make the solemn pledge that they will never repeat such crimes.”

The fake image shows an Australian soldier slitting the throat of a child. Source: Zhao Lijian/ Twitter
The fake image shows an Australian soldier slitting the throat of a child. Source: Zhao Lijian/ Twitter

‘Deeply offensive to every Australian’

The chilling image was shared by China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on his Twitter account and is Beijing’s latest move in their condemnation of the alleged killing of 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners by Australian special force soldiers detailed in the Brereton report released earlier this month.

Prime Minister Morrison labelled the picture “truly repugnant” and “deeply offensive to every Australian [and] every Australian that's served in that uniform".

“It is utterly outrageous and it cannot be justified on any basis whatsoever,” he told reporters.

“The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world's eyes.”

Mr Morrison said Australia is seeking an apology from China’s foreign ministry and has asked Twitter to remove the post.

PM’s apology request labelled ‘ridiculous and shameless’

Hours later Chinese Government appointed Editor-in-Chief of the state-run Global Times responded to Mr Morrison’s request for an apology referring to the “brutal murder”.

“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 apologise,” he tweeted.

Mr Morrison said has attempted to reach out to China but has been unsuccessful and is standing firm behind a request for an apology.

“I want to make a couple of points about this. Australia is seeking an apology from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from the Chinese government, for this outrageous post.

“We are also seeking its removal immediately and have also contacted Twitter to take it down immediately.

“It is a false image and a terrible slur on our great defence forces and the men and women who have served in that uniform for over 100 years,” Mr Morrison told reporters.

Twitter did not remove the image, but has censored it by hiding the image behind the warning: “The following media includes potentially sensitive content”.

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