PM muddies Aussie's own waters with double-standard outburst

By Yu Luxu Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/1 17:43:40

PM muddies Aussie’s own waters with double-standard outburst


Wuheqilin's latest cartoon Photo: Wuheqilin's official Sina Weibo account

Australia's hypocrisy and double standard on human rights and so-called freedom of speech have again made waves in its relations with China. 

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian made a post on his personal Twitter account of a cartoon that condemns Australian troops' murder of civilians in Afghanistan. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison then reacted immediately with a press conference, calling the cartoon "a false image" and demanded an apology from China. 

What Zhao posted was a satirical cartoon illustrated by Chinese young artist Wuheqilin and based on reports from Australian media outlets. A four-year inquiry recently released by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force found evidence of 39 murders and the cruel treatment of two others by Australian special forces deployed in Afghanistan. The long-running probe found "credible information," according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation report on November 19.

The report has sparked controversy online and across the world. Humanity has condemned such misconduct. Wuheqilin, who is to some extent well-known in China for his ironic cartoons, is one of them. Many of his previous works satirizing the US were quite popular among Chinese netizens. But soon after Zhao posted his latest cartoon on Twitter, it was accused by the Australian side of fueling "horrific anti-Australia propaganda." 

A cartoon is cartoon. It is not a photo. So how can it be "faked" as Morrison and some Australian outlets claim? Cartoon has characteristics that exaggerate some points with an emphasis on artistic expression and visual shock. This is very common around the world. This is far from fabricating facts. Still, Wuheqilin's work is based on facts. "I was only using my work to record what had happened. I see it as my responsibility to record truth," Wuheqilin said. 

Photo: Liu Rui/GT

To clarify matters: A Chinese artist expressed his anger and condemnation against Australian troops' war crimes in a neighbor country of China with a cartoon. A Chinese diplomat put it on Twitter to show his own opinion about these outrageous crimes. That's all. Did they do anything wrong? They are practicing their freedom of speech, something Australia claims to love and fight for. Ridiculously, such moves are intolerant to Australia's current PM. 

Australia and some other Western countries including the US, have long applied double standards toward China over human rights and freedom of speech, as Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Monday. These countries always describe themselves as defenders of human rights, yet they wantonly criticize other countries' human rights conditions. 

Zhao's condemnation over Australian soldiers who committed wars crime in Afghanistan is legitimate. On what ground did Morrison feel angry over the use of the cartoon? Is Canberra that thin skinned and delicate? Qian said this fully exposes the hypocrisy of the West on topics such as "human rights" and "freedom of speech" - mantras Australia is always bleating like a sheep. 

Morrison loses his cool over a diplomat and computer graphic artist with just one social media post. The post was against the atrocities not the country per se. Yet the Australian government should put those guilty on trial - not drop the diplomatic ball with a knee-jerk reaction and misconstrue the cartoon as "anti-Australia propaganda."

In this pressurized climate, Canberra and the Morrison government in particular should take full responsibility for the deteriorating relationship with China. Canberra in recent days has repeated irrational and reckless provocations against China. It is acting as a proxy field and little Washington fixer to contain Beijing. 

Against this backdrop, Australia will use any silly pretext to smear China. Therefore, Australia exaggerated and distorted Zhao's comment and use of cartoon over the crime of Australian troops, calling it "a false image." The Chinese diplomat and the artist also have the freedom to criticize Australia's soldiers murdering civilians. But Australia and its media outlets showed no respect for their freedom of speech. 

China's criticism over Australia soldiers' cruel killing is based on "credible evidence" and is legitimate. By contrast, Australia has made up a large number of fake messages about China. For example, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute has long spared no effort to portray China as Australia's biggest threat. In a bid to instigate anti-China sentiments, this institute churns out a host of absurd "reports" on China which confuse right and wrong. Has Australia apologized to China? 

The country that owes an apology is Australia - to China. And to Afghanistan first and foremost for slaughtering their innocent people. 

Indeed, Canberra should apologize to the unarmed people who were brutally killed by Australia's elite soldiers, and to their families and friends. It should also apologize to the Chinese artist, whose work was groundlessly smeared as a "false image." It needs to seriously reassess the damage done its own international optics caused by this double standard outburst regarding "freedom of speech" and "human rights."

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


blog comments powered by Disqus