The Chinese embassy in Canberra has dismissed anger over the release of a fake war crimes photo as an “overreaction”.
The inflammatory tweet by a Chinese official, which contained a fake photo of an Australian soldier slitting an Afghan child’s throat, has received widespread condemnation, prompting a demand for an apology from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
A Chinese embassy spokesperson on Tuesday showed no signs of backing away from the incident, instead accusing Australia of further stoking tensions between the countries.
“The rage and roar of some Australian politicians and media is nothing but misreading of and overreaction to Mr Zhao’s tweet,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said a phone complaint to the Chinese ambassador from DFAT secretary Frances Adamson amounted to “unwarranted accusations” that were “absolutely unacceptable”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday afternoon said the fake photo was “repugnant” while urging China to take responsibility.
The Twitter post by foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian relates to the Brereton Report into alleged war crimes committed by Australian special forces soldiers in Afghanistan, which was released earlier this month.
The Chinese embassy said Australia’s response tried to “deflect public attention” from the “horrible atrocities by certain Australian soldiers” and blame China for the “worsening of bilateral ties” .
“There may be another attempt to stoke domestic nationalism,” the spokesperson said.
“All of this is obviously not helpful to the resetting of bilateral relationship.”
The embassy said the Australian side should face up to the crimes committed by the Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, calling for perpetrators to be held accountable and for justice to be brought to the victims.
“We also urge the Australian side face up to the crux of the current setback of bilateral relationship and take constructive practical steps to help bring it back to the right track,” the spokesperson said.