Commentary on Political Economy

Wednesday 24 March 2021



China calls for western sanctions on Australia over human rights

Michael Smith

Chinese officials have ramped up their criticism of Australia’s human rights record and called for western sanctions against Canberra with one official accusing the Morrison government of operating a “concentration camp” on Manus Island.

An online attack by China’s so-called “wolf warrior” diplomats on western countries’ human rights records has been escalating all week as Beijing lashes back at sanctions on Chinese officials over the treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

China calls for sanctions on Australia. Lijian Zhao, a Chinese foreign ministry official, this week compared Australia’s refugee detention centres to concentration camps.

Australia was again in the frontline of China’s rhetoric on Thursday.

Lijian Zhao, a Chinese foreign ministry official who angered Scott Morrison last year when he tweeted a doctored photo of an Australian soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan boy, this week compared refugee detention centres to concentration camps.

’The #Australian government built detention centres on the #Manus Island, which “accommodates” tens of thousands of people from war-torn countries. The concentration camps, as some critics call it, are still in operation,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

The inflammatory remarks are part of a wider directive given to China’s diplomats to target the human rights records of American, European and other nations. Australia this week said it supported the sanctions on Chinese officials.

A different Foreign Ministry official earlier called for western countries to boycott Australia over the findings of the Brereton inquiry into alleged war crimes committed by special forces troops.

“Speaking of “accountability”, I wonder how is Australia doing with those investigations into their soldiers’ grave crimes in Afghanistan that were exposed not long ago? Have they held the perpetrators accountable and punished them to do justice to the innocent victims? Will Five Eyes countries including the US and the UK, and the EU consider sanctions on Australia?” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press conference.

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