Scott Morrison has appealed directly to millions of Chinese on the social messaging app WeChat to defend Australia’s honour after a barbaric fake image showed a soldier preparing to kill a child.
In an olive branch to Chinese voters, the Prime Minister has insisted the incendiary image would not diminish Australia’s respect for the Chinese community at home or abroad.
However, he warned Australia was a “free, democratic” country that was dealing with the war crimes allegations in a transparent way.
“I am extremely proud of all Australians who pull a uniform on for Australia. I am proud of their service and of their dedication to keeping Australia and Australians safe. I am proud of their loyalty to our country and its values,” he said.
“Where there are alleged events that have taken place that require action, well we have set up the honest and transparent processes for that to take place. That is what a free, democratic, liberal country does.
“The post of a false image of an Australian soldier does not diminish our respect for and appreciation of our Chinese Australian community or indeed our friendship with the people of China.”
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The Prime Minister first joined the Chinese social messaging platform in the lead up to the 2019 election.
In his first post, Mr Morrison wrote: “I hope to establish closer channels of communication with Chinese Australians through this WeChat account to present my work and national policies.”
In Tuesday night’s post, the Prime Minister was at pains to note his respect for the nation’s Chinese community.
“We acknowledge and greatly appreciate and value the contribution that generations of Chinese migrants have made to Australia,” he said.
“Migrants from China have been arriving in Australia for more than two hundred years and Australians of Chinese background have added immensely to our nation.”
As he has previously noted, he said the Chinese community’s adherence to COVID-19 rules and quarantine was vital to containing the virus as Australians returned from Wuhan and other parts of China earlier this year.
“It was Chinese Australians in particular who provided one of the greatest defences to the COVID-19 pandemic we had in those early weeks,” he said.
“They were the ones who first went into self-isolation, they were the ones who were returning from family visits to China and they were coming home and it was through their care, commitment and patience that actually Australia was protected in that first wave. Australians are very grateful for that.”
The Prime Minister’s diplomacy comes amid a new campaign to urge drinkers to buy an Australian bottle of wine in a show of force to China.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) launched a new video overnight amid fresh threats to slap huge tariffs on wine exports.
“We are asking you all to join us in standing against Xi Jinping’s authoritarian bullying,” Miriam Lexmann, a Christian Democrat Member of the European parliament said.
On Tuesday, the Chinese embassy issued a blistering response to the “rage and roar” of Australian politicians accusing them of “overreacting” to the incendiary tweet.
“We would like to further stress the following: the rage and roar of some Australian politicians and media is nothing but misreading of and over-reaction to Mr Zhao’s tweet,” the statement said.
China’s state-controlled media has urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “kneel down on the ground and slap himself in the face” over alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
“Morrison should kneel down on the ground, slap himself in the face, and kowtow to apologise to Afghans – all these should be done in a live telecast,” the editor wrote.
“No matter what harsh words people use on them for the murder, the Australian government should have accepted it. How dare they talk back and say they are offended!”