Chinese newspaper editor accuses Australia of genocide

The controversial editor of one of Beijing's English-language mouthpieces has hit back at Australia as allegations of genocide levelled against China gain momentum.

While Australia has not joined the UK, US and Canada in their decision to declare China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang genocide, the federal government has been critical of the alleged abuse occurring inside its internment camps which have housed more than one million Uyghurs and other minorities.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said on Monday there was clear evidence that suggested China was guilty of "severe breaches of human rights".

Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of state-run tabloid the Global Times, hit out at Australia, suggesting Canberra's criticism was hypocritical, accusing Australia itself of committing genocide.

Australia and US accused of genocide

“What’s genocide? Massacring native Americans and Aboriginal Australians, forcing people colonised to speak English, French, Spanish, transforming their way of life, these are genocide, right?” he asked in a barbed tweet overnight.

His comments come after China's foreign minister Wang Yi held his annual press conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress on Sunday, where he rejected claims of genocide as "preposterous" while pointing the finger at other nations including Australia.

“Speaking of genocide, many people would have in their minds the native Americans of the 16th century, African slaves of the 19th century, the Jewish people of the 20th century, and the Aboriginal Australians who are still struggling even today,” Wang Yi said.

On Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian singled out the US for their treatment of native Americans.

"The first thing the United States should do is to pay attention to and improve the domestic human rights situation, rather than pointing the finger at others on the basis of lies and rumours," he said.

The Global Times, led by Hu Xijin, has been highly critical of Australia in recent years. Source: Weibo
The Global Times, led by Hu Xijin, has been highly critical of Australia in recent years. Source: Weibo

China's aggressive approach continues

Going on the offensive following external condemnation of its own practices is a tactic that has been adopted more readily by China in recent years, and is often dubbed 'wolf warrior diplomacy' after the hit action movies of the same name where Rambo-like protagonists defend the interests of China across the globe.

It was an approach utilised by Mr Zhao in a bid to flip the narrative surrounding Xinjiang by condemning the alleged killing of 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners by Australian special force soldiers detailed in the Brereton report released in November.

Mr Zhao shared a now infamous tweet featuring an artist's impression of an Australian soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan child.

Mr Hu's tweet is the latest provocative move from a renowned critic of Australia who is understood to have strong links to some of the Communist Party of China's top officials and diplomats.

The onslaught unleashed by his publication on Australia over the past 12 months prompted a clear-the-air meeting been Hu and Australia's ambassador to China, Graham Fletcher, and was seen as a route to Beijing to salvage badly-damaged ties after a refusal from Chinese officials to engage in such discussions.

There are allegations of widespread physical and sexual abuse in the camps. Source: Getty
There are allegations of widespread physical and sexual abuse in the camps. Source: Getty

At the time, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade rejected the Global Times' coverage as "inaccurate and inflammatory".

Earlier this week, an independent report was released by the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy think tank that claimed China's policy in Xinjiang displayed "an intent to destroy the Uyghurs as a group, in whole or in part".

It concluded China was guilty of violating all provisions of the United Nation's Genocide Convention.

Following its release Mr Zhao targeted one of its main contributors Dr Adrian Zenz, saying his research was "sensational lies".

"The whole thing reeks of political manipulation by forces with ulterior motives who aim to attack and malign China by hyping up issues relating to Xinjiang," he said.

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