China / Australia Conflict Deepens Over Tweet

Flag of the People's Republic of China. Image by 古水.

The relationship between the governments of China and Australia has been growing steadily cooler, first due to trade and border disputes and then because of Australian officials’ vocal support of Hong Kong independence movement. China has now taken advantage of a war crime report to undermine their rival’s image in the region, and Australian politicians are angry.

China has been negotiating with Taliban leaders in Afghanistan to give them extensive and in many cases exclusive access to trade routes as part of their “Belt and Road” effort. The United States, under President Trump, has been providing significant aid in that respect by drawing down their support of the elected Afghan officials and pulling military forces out. Australia, for their part, has continued to support the Afghan government and fight the Taliban.

Alone, this might not cause significant friction between the two nations, as they’ve had an effective working relationship for decades. But the expansionist effort China has taken in recent years frayed that bond, and China is seeking to exploit any failing of Australia for its own gain.

In this case, the failing is significant: members of the elite Special Air Service were found, following an internal investigation by the Australian Defence Force, to have potentially committed war crimes associated with the execution of civilians and prisoners.

The people killed, per the reports, were non-combatants, technically. The currently released information indicates that all of them were either recent combatants who had surrendered or were known operatives for combatant rings. In some cases, the people killed were already detained; in others, they were known to be standing with their hands raised and their backs to the SAS forces. In many of the instances weapons were planted afterward as a way of justifying the killings. There are estimated to have been 39 such murders between 2005 and 2016.

It is being reported that the actions were associated with a process called “blooding”, which was ensuring that a SAS member had already taken someone’s life before they found themselves in a combat situation where they might otherwise hesitate.

Because of the age of some Taliban soldiers, the SAS has come under criticism for killing children… a technically accurate but deceptive term. That was the impetus for the tweet… a falsified image of an Australian soldier telling an Afghan child (about six, holding a baby sheep) that he was there to help as he stood behind the child and slit his throat.

Some Hong Kong citizens aren’t particularly impressed by China’s sudden support of Afghanistan, particularly as they’re in the middle of oppression and China has a recent history of killing actual children in their expansionist efforts.

The initial tweet from the official, Zhao Lijian (a deputy in their foreign ministry) has been identified as having unusually high traffic shortly after it was released, indicating an unofficial “push” by Chinese government-linked accounts to promote the image to specific markets, in this case Afghani areas. The same activity was seen months ago when Zhao Lijian tweeted the accusation of COVID-19 being brought to Asia, and China specifically, via US soldiers.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.