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'PLEASE EXPLAIN': China lists THREE Australian 'atrocities'

In a week Beijing turned up its highly-critical stance on Australia following the landmark nuclear-powered submarine announcement, China has now taken the opportunity to remind the world of Australia's human rights track record.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Thursday told reporters at his department's daily press briefing Australia should be accused of multiple human rights violations.

He was pressed on the 48th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, where Australia drew criticism.

He was asked China's position on the matter and spoke critically of Australia's treatment of refugees, the Aboriginal community and alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan – demanding an explanation for the latter.

FM spokesperson Zhao Lijian delivered a characteristically robust response to the nuclear-powered submarine development. Source: FMPRC
FM spokesperson Zhao Lijian took aim at Australia over its human rights record on Thursday. Source: FMPRC

Zhao's response in full

Refugees and migrants

"In Australian offshore detention centres, a large number of refugees and migrants have been long held with chronic mental and physical sufferings, and unnatural deaths occur from time to time.

"Outsourced to private security firms, the detention centres have bad living conditions. The Australian government fails to effectively monitor them and gravely violates the human rights of refugees and migrants."

Australia has faced ongoing criticism for its handling of refugees as well as previous governments' treatment of Aboriginal people. Source: Getty
Australia has faced ongoing criticism for its handling of refugees as well as previous governments' treatment of Aboriginal people. Source: Getty

Indigenous 'genocide'

"Historically, Australia committed genocide against the Aboriginals and inflicted permanent pain on the "stolen generation" by taking 100,000 Aboriginal children by force from their families.

"Even today, the average life expectancy of the Aboriginal Australians is 8.2 years shorter than that of White people. The Aboriginals account for 3.3 per cent of the Australian population but 28 per cent of the prisoner population.

"The Australian Aboriginals are still subjected to serious unfair treatment in living conditions, law enforcement and justice system, among others."

Afghanistan 'atrocity'

"During the war in Afghanistan, Australian troops brutally killed prisoners of war and even civilians by shooting or cutting their throats.

"My colleagues and I have shed light on and condemned the atrocity of the Australian troops many times. The truth has come to light, but justice is still not upheld.

"These Australian troops remain at large despite their grave war crimes. Afghan lives also matter. The Australian side owes the world an explanation."

China's handling of its own human rights abuse allegations

China itself faces serious allegations of human rights abuse, most recently for its internment camps in its western province of Xinjiang where more than one million Uyghurs and Muslim minorities are believed to be held against their own will in a crackdown on religious extremism.

Yet Beijing has routinely gone on the defensive when accused of serious wrongdoing, instead pointing the finger at countries who raise the issue, including Australia.

While Australia was not one of several countries to officially describe China's actions in Xinjiang as genocide, Canberra's vocal stance on the matter prompted the Chinese Embassy to challenge Australia on its "long-standing insufficiency in the protection of the rights of aboriginal peoples".

Mr Zhao famously riled Prime Minister Scott Morrison for a tweet he shared of an artist's impression of an Australian soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan child.

China's foreign ministry defended the picture and instead accused Mr Morrison of overreacting and called for self-reflection from Australia.

State media went even further, with Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin labelling Mr Morrison "ridiculously arrogant".

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