China refuses to apologise to Australia for fake soldier image

China refuses to apologise to Australia for fake soldier image
The fake image posted by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao has triggered a new bitter row. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times: China has accused Australia of trying to “deflect public attention” from alleged war crimes by its soldiers in Afghanistan after Australian authorities, including the Prime Minister, expressed outrage over a “repugnant” tweet and asked China to apologise.

Australia has demanded an apology from China for sharing the fake image of an Australian soldier killing an Afghan child.

Beijing has now said that Canberra was trying to “blame China for the worsening of bilateral ties”.

Relations between the two countries have plummeted to a new low in recent days.

The tweet with the fake image was posted in response to a damning report last month exposing the war crimes of Australian troops in Afghanistan.

The Australian Defence Force said last month that it had found “credible information” that 25 Australian soldiers were involved in the murders of 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners between 2009 and 2013.

China joined in the widespread condemnation of the findings on Monday. The findings is now under police investigation, but the graphic doctored image shared by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao has triggered furious reactions in Australia and beyond.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia said Beijing should be “utterly ashamed” for sharing the “repugnant” image, demanding an apology.

The tweet has also prompted New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to raise its concerns with Beijing.

But the Chinese Embassy in Australia attacked Mr Morrison’s remarks on Tuesday but did not apologise.

The embassy said in a statement: “The accusations made are simply to serve two purposes. One is to deflect public attention from the horrible atrocities by certain Australian soldiers. The other is to blame China for the worsening of bilateral ties. There may be another attempt to stoke domestic nationalism.”

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