Chinese state media has continued its relentless attack on Australia in the wake of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call for an apology for a graphic fake artwork depicting an Australian soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan child.
The Global Times, renowned mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, has once again led the way in condemning Canberra with a wave of editorials since Mr Morrison’s reaction to the doctored image that was provocatively shared by China’s foreign ministry on Twitter.
Late on Monday the publication – under the guidance of its outspoken editor-in-chief and unabated critic of Canberra, Hu Xijin – targeted Australia for proposed laws that would see individuals overseas involved in human rights abuse banned from entering or investing in the country.
“Is Australia qualified to judge who violates human rights?” its latest Canberra-related headline read.
China asks Australia to address its own human rights failings
Federal parliament's human rights sub-committee on Monday released a report following an inquiry into Magnitsky-style targeted sanctions which references Australia’s failure to hold Chinese nationals accountable.
The Global Times likened such a move from Canberra to “a pirate flattering himself”.
“It is raising the human rights banner on a pile of innocent Afghan civilians' corpses,” it said in reference to the alleged 39 unlawful killings of Afghan civilians and prisoners by Australian soldiers identified in the recently-published Brereton report.
Australia is among a wave of Western countries to condemn China for the detainment of more than one million Uyghur Muslims in the western province of Xinjiang. However the Global Times on Monday tabled further accusations of hypocrisy at Canberra.
Referencing Australia’s offshore processing facilities for refugees and asylum seekers, the publication stressed Australia must rectify its own human rights issues before pointing the finger elsewhere.
Active and closed offshore detention facilities such as Nauru and Manus Island have been criticised for their poor living conditions while some in the facilities, notably journalist Behrouz Boochani, have alleged abuse and torture.
“[Australia] must have overlooked the need to clean up its own country before accusing others,” the editorial said.
“Shall we remind Australia that its immigration detention facilities has been condemned on human rights grounds and have even been compared to concentration camps?
“It is ludicrous for Canberra to care more about Beijing rather than its own affairs.”
The Global Times once again pushed China’s narrative surrounding Xinjiang, stressing Beijing has overseen the “historic progress in improving people’s livelihood”.
“The West simply likes to play dumb so as to keep finding faults with China on human rights issues.”
Australia to follow suit with US, UK and Canada
Magnitsky sanctions, named after lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in a Moscow jail after accusing Russian officials of tax fraud, have been rolled out in the US, Canada and the UK.
Australia’s pursuit of such laws in conjunction with those countries was endorsed by Labor and Liberal senators earlier this year – a move which will allow Canberra to share the burden of retaliation from Beijing at a time when Australia is facing deteriorating relations with China sparked by early calls for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
However the Global Times accused Australia of “blindly copying the ideological norms of Washington”.
China's Deputy Head of Mission to Australia Wang Xining on Friday suggested Mr Morrison overreacted to the doctored image and called for “concrete actions” from Canberra in order to rebuild the relationship.
He denied Chinese state media’s relentless attack on Australia was a directive of Beijing and stressed Chinese media had not been “manipulated”.
“Our people have their thoughts to express,” he told the ABC’s Stephen Dziedzic in Canberra.
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