As world leaders officially dressed down the Chinese Communist Party at the G7 summit, the Asian superpower shows no sign of heeding the message from the West.
Led by the US, the world's leading democracies scolded China over human rights abuses, military expansionism, and called for a renewed investigation into the emergence of Covid-19 in the country.
Unsurprisingly, China was quick to fire back at the official communique, while the nation's media pounced on a "viral" cartoon which mocked the leaders in a spoof of Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting, The Last Supper.
Australia was pictured as a "double faced" kangaroo snatching at money from the US while holding a bag in its other hand purported to represent trade with China.
Beijing accused the G7 nations – the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – of gross interference in the country's internal affairs, and urged the alliance to stop slandering China.
China's embassy in London said it was strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed to mentions of Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan that distorted the facts and exposed the "sinister intentions of a few countries such as the United States".
With the Covid-19 pandemic still ranging, the international community needs unity and cooperation of all countries rather than "cliquey" power politics sowing division, it said.
China is a peace-loving country that advocates cooperation, the embassy claimed, but warned it also has its bottom lines.
As many western observers have noted, the domestic legitimacy of the CCP's authoritarian government is built on the promise of ever-increasing prosperity for Chinese people.
"China's internal affairs must not be interfered in, China's reputation must not be slandered, and China's interests must not be violated," the embassy said.
"We will resolutely defend our national sovereignty, security, and development interests, and resolutely fight back against all kinds of injustices and infringements imposed on China."
Overnight, the NATO alliance designated China as a potential security threat for the very first time, which is the latest move to officially highlight the deteriorating relations between China and the West.
In a diplomatic victory for US President Joe Biden, who has urged his fellow NATO leaders to stand up to China's authoritarianism and growing military might, the final statement branded China a security risk to the Western alliance.
Cartoon slams 'double faced' Australia, world leaders
As expected, China's parochial English-language media did not take kindly to the criticism over the weekend either.
The Global Times tabloid, which effectively operates as a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party, was quick to promote a cartoon which it said "went viral on Chinese social media on Sunday" during the summit.
It parodies the famous image of Jesus' last supper, with animals sitting around the table. Despite not being members of the G7, Australia and India are included in the image by the artist known as Bantonglaoatang.
Above the image it reads: "Through this we can still rule the world".
The Global Times gave a detailed breakdown of the cartoon, running through a laundry list of grievances and slights contained in the image.
"These animals have different facial expressions and gestures, implying that each side of the G7 actually has its own axe to grind on the common conspiracies of suppressing China and upholding the Western hegemony," it wrote.
When it came to Australia, it echoed a purported assessment of the cartoon circulated on Chinese social media site Weibo.
I'm old enough to remember when a PRC leader said China should strive to create a credible, lovable, and respectable image and improve how it tells its story in order to make friends.
I guess when China is digging its own hole, we shouldn't fight it for the shovel. https://t.co/WFyR9f9fs6
— Ryan Hass (@ryanl_hass) June 15, 2021
"Sitting next to the dog [a Shiba Inu representing Japan] is a kangaroo, which is stretching its left hand to the banknotes that the US is printing, while grasping a bag in its right hand. The kangaroo symbolises the double-faced Australia which actively cooperates with the US in containing China, but is also eager to earn money from China, its largest trading partner."
The illustration caused a stir on Weibo, according to the tabloid.
"With numerous users praising the author for vividly and straightforwardly revealing the evil intentions of the West that tries to lay a siege to China," it said.
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