The editor-in-chief of China’s state-affiliated newspaper has responded to Scott Morrison’s demand for an apology from the communist nation after an “appalling” fake image was posted online.
The prime minister, in a virtual press conference on Monday, described the graphic fake image of an Australian soldier slitting a child’s throat as “repugnant” and “deeply offensive”.
The fake image was posted to Twitter by Zhao Lijian, an official spokesman with China’s foreign ministry.
“Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians and prisoners by Australian soldiers,” a message posted alongside the image read.
“We strongly condemn such acts and call for holding them accountable.”
Morrison said the Chinese government should be “totally ashamed” of the image.
“The post made today of a falsified image on an Australian soldier threatening a young child with a knife is truly repugnant,” Morrison said.
“It is deeply offensive to every Australian who has served in that uniform, every Australian who serves in that uniform today.
“The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world’s eyes.
“It is utterly outrageous. and it cannot be justified on any basis whatsoever”.
Retired Special Forces commander Heston Russell echoed Morrison’s demand for an apology from China.
“Now we are seeing propaganda attacks on one of the critical institutions – our defence force – here in front of the Australian people on an international scale,” he said.
Following the prime minister’s press conference, Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin said the prime minister’s demand was “ridiculous and shameless”.
“It is a popular cartoon that condemns the Australian Special Forces ’s brutal murder of 39 Afghan civilians,” Xijin wrote, alongside a screenshot of an Australian media report.
“On what ground does Morrison feel angry over the use of this cartoon by the spokesperson of Chinese FM?
“It’s ridiculous and shameless that he demanded China to apologize.”
Morrison said the government had also contacted Twitter to remove the image.