Chinese state media’s relentless attack on Australia amid yet another diplomatic spat has rolled on, accusing Canberra of being in an “abnormal state of political madness and paranoia”.
State-media publication The Global Times’s news site was awash with Australian-related articles overnight as it continues to chastise Canberra in the wake of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s strong response to the doctored Australian soldier image earlier in the week.
In one particularly scathing story, one Chinese academic said Australia had “shot itself in the foot” in the wake of China’s response to the Brereton report which alleges Australian special forces soldiers played a role in the unlawful killing of 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners.
The Global Times, a renowned mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China and relentless critic of Australia under the guidance of its outspoken editor-in-chief Hu Xijin, targeted Canberra over several issues on Thursday, including Australia’s new Foreign Relations Bill to tackle foreign interference and US relations moving ahead.
“China does not need an arrogant and rude friend like Australia,” Xu Shanpin, adjunct researcher at the Centre for Australian Studies at China University of Mining and Technology, wrote.
Mr Xu suggested Mr Morrison’s attempt to impress Washington with its “aggressive” approach towards China may have backfired due to a shift in the US’s direction under Joe Biden, while “seriously damaging” Australia-China relations in the process.
“Canberra's premature and hasty siding with Washington amid the great-power game with China not only failed to boost its international status and extend its diplomatic space, but also has been counterattacked by Beijing. Indeed, it failed to receive Washington's pivotal strategic support,” he explained.
“China will not continue to allow Australia to enjoy China's economic dividends while groundlessly criticising China at the international stage at the same time.”
Victoria ‘embarrassed’ Morrison government
Amid the furore surrounding Wuheqilin’s graphic image of an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child, Australia’s new Foreign Relations Bill was close to being pushed through in parliament on Thursday however will now have to wait until next week after amendments.
It is the latest robust move from Australia as bilateral tensions continue to spiral to unprecedented depths. While China remains stubborn, holding out for substantial concessions from Canberra, a defiant Mr Morrison shows no signs of giving in as he looks to uphold the nation’s “values”.
The latest move allowing the federal government to overturn foreign investment agreements made by states and territories, has been perceived by many as a direct attempt to stop China’s coercion on Australian soil.
China’s Deputy Head of Mission in Australia has also weighed in on the diplomatic spat surrounding the provocative image telling reporters he believes Mr Morrison overreacted to the post.
In a separate article Ruan Zongze, senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, said Victoria’s sign-up to the Road and Belt Initiative had “embarrassed” the Morrison government.
“Australia now seems to be in an abnormal state of political madness and paranoia, with a distorted mindset confusing what is right and what is wrong,” the article explained.
“The fact that the legislation could be passed in the parliament shows that anti-China forces in Australian political circles are gaining the momentum. Political prejudices are coming first, overwhelming their consideration for actual interests.”
A separate editorial urged Mr Morrison to abandon his double standards when it came to criticism of other nation’s failings.
“The logic behind Morrison's moves is quite simple: The West can do anything it wants, but non-Westerners are not allowed,” reporter Mu Lu wrote.
“This is the consistent style of Western whites: The West must always be in a superior status and position. With such a mentality, they never accept the idea that other races can enjoy equality.”
WeChat removes Morrison post due to ‘misleading content’
There was also a focus on Mr Morrison’s olive branch WeChat post where he attempted to reassure Chinese Australians they were appreciated amid the ongoing war of words, while praising Australian troops in the process.
According to The Global Times, WeChat removed the post because of multiple complaints. The platform later said the post violated its rules for misleading content.
The publication quoted several Chinese Australians across two articles who offered their disdain towards Mr Morrison’s response to the soldier image which was shared on Twitter by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.
One Chinese national who recently abandoned his Australian nationality to return to his homeland, branded Mr Morrison’s response “ridiculous”.
Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Centre of East China Normal University, told The Global Times “Australia had shot itself in the foot” while Mr Morrison’s WeChat message was likely intended to aggravate Beijing.
Meanwhile Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, whose daily press conferences this week have been dominated by Australian matters, failed to tone down the rhetoric aimed at Canberra by stressing China is “concerned” by Australia’s defence advancements to counteract China’s military progression.
“Australia follows suit [with the US] and fabricated excuses like "the China threat" and "the Russia threat" trying to justify its arms expansion, which adds instability to regional and even global security,” she told reporters on Thursday.
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