The developing China-Australia trade row which initially sprang out of Australia's joining other countries in criticizing Beijing's handling of the coronavirus crisis has just taken a bizarre and sinister turn.
It started early Monday when China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted a disturbing image to Twitter depicting an Aussie soldier about to slit the throat of a child in Afghanistan. The grinning soldier held a bloody knife to the distressed child, who is seen holding a lamb, which is a symbol of innocence.
Australian leaders and media were quick to point out it is a doctored or "fake" image and demanded that Lijian remove it immediately, and that Twitter take action over the account.
"It is utterly outrageous and cannot be justified on any basis," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. "The Chinese government should be utterly ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world’s eyes."
Morrison and others demanded a formal apology out of China over the "repugnant" image and tweet. But China's foreign ministry refused calls to apologize, instead doubling down on its charge that Australia appears less ashamed over its egregious war crimes in Afghanistan and more concerned over public embarrassment based on a tweet.
It comes after earlier this month Australia was rocked by scandal when a detailed investigation known as the Brereton War Crimes report revealed that Aussie special forces were implicated in up to 39 or more "unlawful killings" of Afghan civilians and prisoners. At least 13 Australian soldiers are facing criminal charges after horrific details emerged that they were killing random civilians essentially for sport, in something they called "blooding"...