Barnsey blames Aussies in China feud
Cold Chisel frontman Jimmy Barnes said Australia may be to blame for an escalating feud with China, which hit a new low yesterday.
On Q&A last night, he said Prime Minister Scott Morrison's call for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 in April could have been handled better.
"Maybe it was the way we did it. They certainly reacted badly to it," he said.
"We can't just expect... if we're Australians and we say, 'This is wrong, we're got to bloody stand up to it' that may not culturally be the same way to speak to the Chinese."
Other panellists were more critical of China, after the superpower's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian sparked a wave of controversy on Monday by posting a doctored picture of a grinning Australian soldier holding a bloody knife to the throat of an Afghan child that was blasted as "offensive" and "outrageous" by the Prime Minister.
Two panellists on Q&A called out China over the image - which senior Chinese government members and state media later doubled down on - saying it showed the true face of its government.
"Let's call it for what it is. There is a bully in the school. And the bully's name is China," said Former NSW Liberal MP, Michael Yabsley.
"You know, when you look at what China has done in the South China Sea, almost to reinvent the geography of that key shipping area, what China has done in relation to the various Pacific Islands, Samoa, the Solomons, it's recently opened an embassy in Kiribati.
"I think it is absolutely evidence of China going all-out to flex its very significant muscles and put in place stepping stones in relation to what might just ultimately be a new world order."
Kristy McBain, Labor Member for Eden-Monaro, was more critical of how the federal government has handled diplomacy with China for the relationship to deteriorate so badly.
She suggested somebody "get on a plane, go to China and sit down and have a frank conversation".
"Isn't that what diplomacy is all about?" she asked.
However, international relations expert Lavina Lee said it wasn't that simple, and she called out Monday's tweet as an example of "China's bullying behaviour".
"It would be a nice thing (to fly to China) but China is apparently not taking the calls of our Foreign Minister or Defence Minister or Prime Minister. You have got to ask the question - is it our problem or is it China's problem?" she said.
"China's bullying behaviour, I think has been exposed - I would think what happened today, that picture of the soldier, it's an unspeakable type of act and I think it's a real low in our relationship.
"It says more about China than it says about us. But I think what has been exposed is that any business that does export to China, the political and the sovereign risks of doing that are now completely exposed."
Mr Yabsley agreed, saying China has viewed Australia as a land of "dopes" for a long time where they could buy key infrastructure at bargain prices.
"I have believed for a long time that without putting too fine a point on the it, the Chinese believe that we are bits of dopes," he said.
"If you take one particular decision that was taken by Australia, to lease the Port of Darwin to China for $500 million through a 99-year lease, we as Australians would not be allowed to buy a bedsit in China. But China can come here, wave $500 million and get a 99-year less over that incredibly important piece of infrastructure."
Relations between Australia and China were already low before Monday's picture was published - a picture that was blasted as "offensive" and "outrageous" by the Prime Minster.
Chinese state media overnight has reacted furiously to Mr Morrison's call for an apology.
In a bombastic piece in the Global Times - widely considered a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party - reporter Hu Xijin said "Australia is turning itself into a Western hatchet man".
"I was really shocked and disgusted. How could this Australian PM be so ridiculously arrogant to pick on Chinese FM spokesperson's condemnation against the murder of innocent people?" he asked.
"Is the murder fake news? Shouldn't that illustrator have made the cartoon? Didn't the Chinese spokesperson have the right to repost that cartoon to censure Australian troops' murder of innocent Afghan civilians?
"The Australian government's many moves have made Australia more and more like a rural-urban continuum in Western civilisation, where rogues and outlaws run wild. Whenever the leader of the West is up to something bad, it just needs to come to this place and hire some hatchet men," it said.
"Morrison should kneel down on the ground, slap himself in the face, and kowtow to apologise to Afghans - all these should be done in a live telecast. No matter what harsh words people use on them for the murder, the Australian government should have accepted it. How dare they talk back and say they are offended!"