China May Have Directly Asked An Artist To Create A Fake Photo Showing A Grinning Australian Soldier Holding A Knife To The Throat Of An Afghan Child According To A Dark New Theory Into The Diplomatic Crisis
China may have directly asked an artist to create a fake photo showing a grinning Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child, according to a dark new theory into the diplomatic crisis.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison had called for the Asian superpower to take down the 'repugnant' fake image posted on Twitter by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao.
The doctored image referred to revelations made last month in the Brereton inquiry 25 Australian soldiers unlawfully killed 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners.
Mr Zhao is believed to have taken the photo from an graphic artist called Wuheqilin - known for his political illustrations against the West - on Chinese social media platform Weibo.
Eagled-eyed observers have noticed though the original image contained a watermark from the artist in the corner, while the version shared by the Chinese foreign ministry did not have one at all.
The Chinese government has doubled down on attacking Australia over war crimes allegations by posting this falsified image on Twitter, while mocking the 'rage and roar' of Prime Minister Scott Morrison
ABC journalist Xiaoning Mo, who covers China, said the lack of a watermark would suggest the Chinese government official had not copied the photo from an online source.
'That image carries his Weibo name's watermark at the bottom right of that image.
Interestingly, the image that was shared by a Chinese spokesperson on his Twitter account looks like an original image without the watermark,' he told ABC TV.
'If a normal person like me - if I need to grab an image from that particular Weibo account - that image would definitely carry a watermark at the bottom right of that image.'
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Mr Mo said he had contacted the artist to ask him if he had been asked to provide an original version of the image to the Foreign Ministry of China.
Mr Zhao's use of a non-watermarked version could mean the Chinese government had specifically asked the artist to create the image so they could use it in the Twitter post.
The country's embassy has said meanwhile the response to Mr Zhao's tweet has been an 'overreaction'.
The embassy said in a statement on Tuesday the response to foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao's tweet had been an 'overreaction'
'We would like to further stress the following: the rage and roar of some Australian politicians and media is nothing but misreading of and overreaction to Mr Zhao's tweet,' the embassy said in a statement.
The embassy said Australian politicians had simply been trying to shift attention away from the war crime allegations.
'The accusations made are simply to serve two purposes.
One is to deflect public attention from the horrible atrocities by certain Australian soldiers,' the embassy said.
'The other is to blame China for the worsening of bilateral ties. There may be another attempt to stoke domestic nationalism.'
The statement follows an incendiary editorial published on Monday night in Chinese Communist Party-controlled tabloid The Global Times.
Its editor Hu Xijin called the Australian prime minister 'ridiculously arrogant' over his outrage at the photo and told him to 'slap himself in the face'.
'How could this Australian PM be so ridiculously arrogant to pick on Chinese FM spokesperson's condemnation against the murder of innocent people?' the article said.
China's foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao (pictured) posted the fake image on Monday
'Is the murder fake news?
Shouldn't that illustrator have made the cartoon? Didn't the Chinese spokesperson have the right to re-post that cartoon to censure Australian troops' murder of innocent Afghan civilians?
'The Australian government's many moves have made Australia more and more like a rural-urban continuum in Western civilisation, where rogues and outlaws run wild.'
Mr Xijin then said Mr Morrison should be the one apologising to the Afghan people for his army's war crimes in a furious tirade in the state-supported newspaper.
'Morrison should kneel down on the ground, slap himself in the face, and kowtow to apologise to Afghans - all these should be done in a live telecast,' he said.
'No matter what harsh words people use on them for kynghidongduong.vn the murder, the Australian government should have accepted it.
'How dare they talk back and đi du lịch ba li say they are offended!'
The Global Times editor Hu Xijin told the Australian prime minister to 'slap himself in the face' and 'kowtow to apologise to Afghans' in response to Mr Morrison's demand for an apology
Mr Xijin earlier tweeted the country's government had nothing to apologise for, before condemning the killing of Afghan civilians by Australian soldiers
Mr Xijin earlier said on Twitter his country's government had nothing to apologise for.
'It is a popular cartoon that condemns the Australian Special Forces' brutal murder of 39 Afghan civilians,' he said.
'On what ground does Morrison feel angry over the use of this cartoon by the spokesperson of the Chinese FM [foreign minister]?
'It's ridiculous and shameless he demanded China to apologise.'
In a further barbed tweet later on Monday evening, Mr Xijin accused Australia of being an '"urban-rural fringe" of Western civilization where gangsters roamed'.
'If the US wants to do something bad, it seeks thugs in such a place.
Australian army's killing of Afghan civilians and Scott Morrison's attitude prove Canberra's barbarism,' he said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying meanwhile spoke in a live TV broadcast to condemn the actions of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
'Some Australian soldiers committed serious crimes in Afghanistan,' she said.
'The details are appalling and shocking including men and boys who were shot dead all with their throats slit while blindfolded.
'There are stories about two 14-year-old boys whose throats were slit and their bodies were thrown into a recruit and recruits were told to kill prisoners in a practice known as blooding.
'These cruel crimes have been condemned by the international community.'
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the Australian government should feel 'ashamed' about war crimes committed by its soldiers in Afghanistan
She then said those offended by the Twitter post should redirect their anger towards the atrocities committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
'The Australian side has reacted so strongly to my colleague's Twitter, does that mean that they think the cold blood murder of Afghan innocent civilians is justified while other people's condemnation of such crimes are not justified?' she said.
'Afghan lives matter.
The Australian government should bring the culprits to justice and offer an official apology to the Afghan people and make the solemn pledge that they will never repeat such crimes.
'They said the Chinese government should feel ashamed.
'It is Australian soldiers who committed such cruel crimes.
Shouldn't the Australian government feel ashamed? Shouldn't they feel ashamed for their soldiers killing innocent Afghan civilians?'
China's foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao posted the fake image with this tweet
Mr Morrison earlier on Monday hit out at the post and said he had asked China and Twitter to remove it.
'The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world's eyes,' he said in a virtual press conference.
'Australia is seeking an apology from the ministry of foreign affairs, from the Chinese government for this outrageous post.
'We are also seeking its removal immediately and have also contacted Twitter to take it down immediately.'
Mr Morrison said Twitter should take down the image because it is false.
'It is a false image, and a terrible slur on our great defence forces and the men and women who've served in that uniform for over 100 years,' he said.
'It is utterly outrageous and cannot be justified on any basis whatsoever.'
Mr Morrison said he has tried to speak to President Xi Jinping and ministers have tried to call their counterparts but the Chinese are not picking up the phone.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is pictured during an official trip to Japan last month.
Mr Morrison slammed the 'disgusting and disgraceful' post and said he has asked China and Twitter to remove it
The provocative post is likely to worsen tensions between Beijing and Canberra which have escalated since Mr Morrison infuriated Australia's largest trading partner by calling for an independent inquiry into the origins of coronavirus in April.
China has recently held up Australia's coal and seafood exports and last week put a 200 per cent tariff on Aussie wine despite the two countries signing a free trade deal in 2015.
Earlier this year Beijing slapped an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley, suspended beef imports and told students and tourists not to travel Down Under.
'There are undoubtedly tensions that exist between China and Australia, but this is not how you deal with them,' Mr Morrison said.
A four-year Australian Defence Force inquiry earlier this month reported evidence of 39 murders of civilians or prisoners by 25 Aussies serving in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2016.
The report alleged troops would force new recruits to get their first kills by murdering prisoners in a practice known as 'blooding'.
The Australian government has set up a special investigator to probe the allegations.
Troops involved face criminal charges and being stripped of medals.
In a press briefing on Friday, Mr Zhou - who is regularly critical of Australia's foreign policy - said the allegations make Australia hypocritical for raising concerns about China's alleged detention of Muslims in Xinjiang province.
'Australia and some other western countries always portray themselves as human rights defenders and wantonly criticise other countries' human rights conditions,' he said.
'The facts revealed by this report fully exposed the hypocrisy of the human rights and freedom these western countries are always chanting.'
China's criticism comes after Russia claimed the allegations had weakened Australia's international standing.
Moscow's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the allegations called into question Australia's commitment to protecting the rules-based world order.
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox news" data-version="2" id="mol-34adfbf0-32bc-11eb-abb3-d985d170ef86" website fires ANOTHER shot at 'roaring and raging' Scott Morrison