China’s mouthpiece has issued a fresh attack on Australia with the publication of a propaganda poster that takes aim at our troops.
The Global Times newspaper, which officially has the backing of the Chinese Communist Party, produced a poster that details alleged war crimes carried out in Afghanistan.
The poster, published under the headline ‘Troops are leaving, will justice arrive soon?’, comes as Australia prepares to pull out of Afghanistan as its allies including the United States do the same.
The poster leans heavily on last year’s Brereton Report, a four-year ADF inquiry that alleged Australian soldiers carried out 39 murders, including those involving civilians, during the bloody seven-year conflict.
It alleges Australians took part in “sanctioned massacres” and that Special Forces soldiers would “block off villages and torture the civilians inside”.
The poster was accompanied by an editorial that is certain to further heighten tensions between the two countries.
“An end day was put to the longest war so far as Australia is to pull out all its remaining troops in Afghanistan following accusations of war crimes and the U.S. decision of withdrawal. But harm is done, and the scars and wounds will be left open should history was misrepresented, truth veiled again and justice remains undone,” the editorial reads.
“The ‘good war Afghanistan’ is just the opposite of its literal sense … Frankly enough, the (Brereton) Report admits that none of these crimes was committed during the heat of battle.
“The victims were noncombatants or no longer combatants. Still, some perpetrators are serving.”
It is not the first time China has used the report to cast Australia in a negative light. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao shared in November a tweet that included a photoshopped image depicting an Australian soldier killing a child.
He wrote: “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians and prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts and call for holding them accountable”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison made calls to China that went unanswered. He said the image was “truly repugnant, deeply offensive, utterly outrageous” and fake.
“The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post,” he told reporters.
“It diminishes them in the world’s eyes. It is a false image and terrible slur on our defence forces.”
Bilateral relations between the two countries are at an all-time low after Australia called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus and took steps to ban Chinese tech firm Huawei from its 5G tender.
Offended, China took aim at Australia’s export market. It put tariffs on timber, wine, barley, beef and seafood, among other markets.
China listed 14 grievances in a leaked dossier. It claimed it was upset at Australia for taking sides over the South China Sea territorial dispute, “thinly veiled” accusations that China is behind cyber attacks and banning Huawei from the rollout of 5G because of security concerns.
A new military pact between Australia and Japan also ruffled feathers in Beijing where Chinese state media described it as “dangerous”.
Mr Morrison and Chinese President Xi Jinping have not held discussions since, despite Mr Morrison’s claims that his office has made multiple attempts to get in contact.
It comes as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tries to hold on to the NZ-China relationship without compromising her country’s own values.
During a speech to the China Business Summit in Auckland earlier this week, she acknowledged the countries’ differences but said the do not define the strong ties.
“It will not have escaped the attention of anyone here that as China’s role in the world grows and changes, the differences between our systems and the interests and values that shape those systems are becoming harder to reconcile,” Ms Ardern said.