Nov 30, 2020 - World

Australian PM demands China apologize for "repugnant" fake image

 Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks on during a press conference at CSL Lab where a COVID-19 Vaccine is being produced on November 16, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a press conference in Melbourne, Australia, this month. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

China is refusing Australia's demands to apologize after a Chinese government official tweeted a doctored image depicting an Australian soldier holding a knife to a blood-stained Afghan child.

Driving the news: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters Monday he wanted the "outrageous" and "repugnant" post removed immediately.

  • "The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post," Morrison said. "It diminishes them in the world’s eyes."

The other side: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying defended her colleague's tweet in a statement to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

  • She said Australia should "offer an official apology" over inquiry findings this month that there's "credible" evidence to support allegations that Australian troops unlawfully killed 39 civilians and prisoners in Afghanistan.
  • "Afghan lives matter... shouldn't the Australian soldiers feel ashamed?" she added.

For the record: A Twitter spokesperson said in an emailed statement they have marked the image as "sensitive media," noting that the account is labeled as an official government account and that comments on political or military issues are generally not in violation of Twitter's rules.

The big picture: Relations between the two countries have deteriorated in recent years, with the Australian government citing Chinese influence concerns as it passed legislation to prevent foreign interference.

  • Morrison also called for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic, prompting Chinese officials to accuse Australia of being "keen" to follow the U.S. by attacking Beijing.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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