Aussie rock legend Jimmy Barnes has suggested Australia is at least partly to blame for the country’s deteriorating relationship with China.
A senior Chinese official inflamed tensions on Monday after tweeting a fake image of an Australian soldier holding a bloody knife to the throat of an Afghan child.
The provocative piece of propaganda referenced allegations of war crimes including murder and torture by Australian troops in Afghanistan.
Barnes said Australia’s call for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 in April had not been culturally sensitive.
“Maybe it was the way we did it. They certainly reacted badly to it,” he told Q&A on Monday night.
“We can’t just expect… if we’re Australians and we say, ‘This is wrong, we’ve got to bloody stand up to it’ that may not culturally be the same way to speak to the Chinese.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged the serious situation in bilateral relations when he joined a Coalition partyroom meeting in Canberra via video on Tuesday.
He said the Federal Government made clear its response to the post.
“That doesn’t need any further amplification,” the Prime Minister told colleagues.
“Our work is focusing on establishing dialogue that allows us to steadily work through issues as governments.”
Mr Morrison has demanded China apologise for the Tweet and take it down.
The Chinese foreign ministry responded by doubling down and suggesting Australia do some soul-searching over the actions of its special forces.
The Chinese embassy in Canberra also responded, saying the “rage and roar” of some Australian politicians was a misreading of and overreaction to the social media post.
It described an official complaint lodged by Australia’s foreign affairs secretary as unwarranted and unacceptable.
The bitter public spat is playing out at the same time as a worsening trade dispute between Australia and China.
China has hit a wide range of Australian exports including coal, timber, grain and seafood with bans and tariffs.
The Australian wine industry has been especially hard hit.