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Picture of ‘soldier slitting Afghan boy’s throat’ triggers row between Australia and China

A pixelated version of the ‘repugnant’ image tweeted by a Chinese official (Picture: Lijian Zhao/Twitter)

The Australian Prime Minister has branded a tweet by a Chinese official showing a fake image of a soldier appearing to slit a child’s throat ‘truly repugnant’ and demanded an apology. 

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, posted the graphic image showing a smiling soldier holding a bloodied knife to the throat of a veiled child, who is holding a lamb.

It follows a report by Australia’s military earlier this month which found evidence that elite Australian troops unlawfully killed 39 prisoners, farmers and civilians during the war in Afghanistan.


The incident also comes amid growing tensions between the two nations.

On Monday, Zhao wrote alongside the image: ‘Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, & call for holding them accountable.’

Morrison said he wants the Chinese government to say sorry, and that the incident is further increasing tensions in a relationship that was already under strain.

Chinese officials, meanwhile, have delivered a stinging response to demands for an apology over a shocking faked photograph of an Australian soldier, accusing Australia of “barbarism” and saying the government should feel ashamed.

On Monday evening Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying delivered a statement on live TV doubling down on the disturbing image posted by her colleague.

“Some Australian soldiers committed serious crimes in Afghanistan,” she said. “The details are appalling and shocking including men and boys who were shot dead all with their throats slit while blindfolded.

“There are stories about two 14-year-old boys whose throats were slit and their bodies were thrown into a recruit and recruits were told to kill prisoners in a practise known as blooding.

“These cruel crimes have been condemned by the international community.”

Meanwhile the editor-in-chief of state media outlet The Global Times, Hu Xinjin said the country is at the “’urban-rural fringe’ of civilisation where gangsters roamed” in a series of inflammatory tweets.

It’s important to point out that the allegations of throat slitting — presented as fact by Ms Hua — could not be substantiated in the Australian government’s Brereton Report.