'Still at large': China takes swipe at Australian war crimes

·Assistant News Editor
·3-min read

China has hit out at Australia's human rights record saying Aussie soldiers who committed war crimes were "still at large". 

The Chinese Communist Party is under growing pressure for its human rights atrocities and cultural genocide in its Xinjiang region, but a Chinese diplomat has sought to turn the spotlight on its Western denouncers. 

Speaking at the 47th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council on Thursday, Jiang Duan, minister of the Chinese mission to the UN in Geneva, said that Australian soldiers have indiscriminately killed civilians and committed serious war crimes in overseas military operations.

According to Chinese state media, he said Australian soldiers who "committed war crimes" are "still at large today".

An Australian soldier conducts a search while on patrol in the Oruzgan Province in Southern Afghanistan. Austrailan troops have now withdrawn from the country. Source: Getty
An Australian soldier conducts a search while on patrol in the Oruzgan Province in Southern Afghanistan. Austrailan troops have now withdrawn from the country. Source: Getty

Australian special forces allegedly killed 39 unarmed prisoners and civilians in Afghanistan, with senior commandos reportedly forcing junior soldiers to kill defenceless captives in order to “blood” them for combat, a four-year investigation found, culminating in the damning Brereton Report

In November, the federal government said 19 current and former soldiers will be referred for potential criminal prosecution.

Mr Duan also criticised Australia for setting up offshore detention centres, where large numbers of immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers have been forcibly detained – a program which has already drawn strong criticism from the United Nations. 

China has repeatedly hit out at nations including Australia, Canada and the US about their past treatment of indigenous communities as it deflects condemnation of its own actions.

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Relations between China and Australia remain ice cold under the Morrison government with the Chinese diplomat accusing Australia of "spreading misinformation out of political motivation" under the pretext of human rights. 

China urges Australia to face up to its serious human rights problems, immediately stop various violations of human rights, and take concrete measures to protect human rights, he said, according to China's Xinhua News Agency. 

Report calls for greater action against China

A report by the UK government's influential Foreign Affairs Committee released this week called on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take greater action against China for its treatment of Muslim minorities. 

It included exploring the feasibility of an International Criminal Court probe into the alleged crimes against Uyghur Muslims and others in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang.

Last month, an international alliance of more than 40 countries including Australia called on China to grant the United Nations Human Rights Council access to its Xinjiang region.

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