Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday criticised China for a fake photo shared on Twitter by the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, Reuters reported. The image showed an Australian soldier holding a bloody knife to an Afghan child’s throat
Morrison said that the Chinese government should be “utterly ashamed” of the Twitter post. “It is utterly outrageous and cannot be justified on any basis,” he said. “It [the post] diminishes them in the world’s eyes.”
The Australian prime minister also demanded that the “repugnant” photo be taken down, and sought an apology from China.
Zhao, in a tweet earlier in the day, expressed shock about the murder of Afghan civilians and prisoners by Australian soldiers. “We strongly condemn such acts and call for holding them accountable,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Australian Defence Force had reported that 25 of its soldiers were involved in the killing of 39 Afghan prisoners and civilians between 2009 and 2013, BBC reported. The Australian military has sent dismissal notices to 13 soldiers after the report. These 13 soldiers have been accused of aiding, or being witnesses to the killings, or dishonestly testifying in the matter. Apart from this, Australia is also taking action against 19 Special Air Service soldiers, who may be prosecuted for the deaths.
The ties between Australia and China worsened after Canberra called for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus in April, according to Reuters. Last week, China introduced new trade sanctions against Australia. Beijing announced the imposition of temporary anti-dumping tariffs up to over 200% on wine from Australia.