Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the inhumane image shared on social media as “repugnant” and ordered it to be removed from Twitter. Speaking at a media briefing, he said: “The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world’s eyes.
“It is an absolutely outrageous and disgusting slur.
“Australia is seeking an apology from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are seeking it be removed from Twitter.”
The disturbing post was shared on the social media site by China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.
The doctored image on the backdrop of an Australian flag, depicts a smiling uniformed soldier holding a knife to the throat of a young child who is holding a lamb.
A caption on the post read: “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers.
“We strongly condemn such acts, & call for holding them accountable.”
The post appeared to refer to alleged war crimes by Australian soldiers.
Earlier this month, an independent report found “credible information” that 25 Australian soldiers were involved in the killing of 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners between 2009 and 2013.
The findings from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) inquiry are being investigated by police.
Mr Morrison said Australia had established a “transparent and honest” process for investigating the allegations and insisted this “is what a free, democratic, liberal country does”.
Relations between the two nations have deteriorated ever since Australia called for an independent inquiry into the origin of coronavirus.
China is the largest trading partner of Australia – with sectors such as mining and agriculture heavily reliant on Chinese investment.
Australia denies dumping its product in China – a mechanism where something is sold cheaper than in the home country through the use of subsidies.
China is the biggest destination for Australia’s wine exports, accounting for 39 percent of global output in the first nine months of the year.
Speaking on Friday, Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said: “Today’s decision is a seriously concerning development and one which Australia will be vigorously fighting against.
“The Australian Government categorically rejects any allegation that our wine producers are dumping product into China, and we continue to believe there is no basis or any evidence for these claims.”