Chinese artist behind fake Aussie soldier image hits out at PM

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·3-min read

The Chinese artist behind the fake image depicting an Australian soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan child has warned he’ll create another image following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s calls for an apology.

Wuheqilin, a renowned ‘wolf warrior’ style artist with more than 600,000 followers on Twitter-like site Weibo, has responded to the uproar in the wake of his picture being shared by China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zho Lijian on Monday.

The image was Beijing’s latest attack on Canberra over the findings of the Brereton report which alleges Australian special force soldiers played a role in the unlawful killings of 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners.

In a video shared on Weibo account Guan Video, Wuheqilin provided an update from Beijing airport, delivering a message to Mr Morrison.

The fake image showing an Australian soldier slitting the throat of a child who is holding a lamb.
The fake image shows an Australian soldier slitting the throat of a child. Source: Zhao Lijian/Twitter

“I noticed that I’ve got some hate online from an Australian man,” he tells the camera.

“I get scolded by this Morrison and he demands my apology. I feel sympathetic for him and fully understand Mr Morrison’s mood right now but I would still advise Mr Morrison to face reality and put his efforts towards domestic affairs.”

The artist urged Mr Morrison should be doing everything he could to prevent such “tragedies” from happening again.

At the end of his video he criticised the prime minister for targeting him and said there could be further illustrations to come.

“If I’m not too tired tonight maybe I’ll make another drawing,” he said.

What does the term ‘wolf warrior’ mean?

The term ‘wolf warrior’ used for Wuheqilin and similar artists derives from the Communist Party of China’s growing tendency to use ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’.

The tactic sees officials proactively condemning any criticism of China in an aggressive manner, often on social media.

The name ‘wolf warrior’ comes from two Chinese blockbuster action films of the same name, the first released in 2015 and features Rambo-like protagonists defending the interests of China across the globe.

Links to Beijing’s new approach to the film quickly followed, with Mr Zhao a renowned user of ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’.

Artist praises Chinese official for sharing image

Wuheqilin shared a screenshot of Mr Zhao’s tweet to his Weibo page praising the Chinese official. He also shared a screenshot of multiple Australian media reports covering the tweet.

The patriotic artist rose to online fame in 2020 for a series of political artworks illustrating both national and international matters including George Floyd’s death and the subsequent Black Lives Matter movement, and the protests in Hong Kong that oppose China’s communist rule.

Mr Zhao’s tweet was described as “truly repugnant” by Mr Morrison who demanded China apologise for the tweet from the government-linked account.

Late on Monday following Mr Morrison’s robust comments, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying doubled down on Mr Zhao’s post and refused to apologise and instead called for remorse from Australia.

“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,” she told reporters.

The Global Times, the Communist Party of China’s English-language mouthpiece, has previously shared Wuheqilin’s work on their social accounts.

In June they interviewed Wuheqilin, noting he had been dubbed the ‘The Wolf Warrior artist’ by Chinese social media users.

He told the publication he was motivated to create nationalistic art after “western forces” used Hong Kong as a “good chance to bash China”.

“The fierce hostility from the outside world made me furious,” he said.

"What's unwise about the Western world is that their attack would only make Chinese people more united.”

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