The campaign follows Beijing's imposition of punitive tariffs on Australian exports to China and the publication of an incendiary social media post this week by a senior Chinese diplomat, which depicted an Australian solder holding a bloodstained knife to the throat of an Afghan child. "We strongly condemn such acts, &call for holding them accountable", Zhao tweeted alongside the image. It recommended that 19 soldiers be referred to federal police for criminal investigation.
Mr Morrison reassured Chinese Australians that the government was taking the ADF report seriously and justice would be done. "It diminishes them in the world's eyes". "It is deeply offensive to every Australian, every Australian who has served in that uniform, every Australian who serves in that uniform today", he said at an unscheduled press conference.
"It is utterly outrageous and can not be justified on any basis", Morrison said.
"It is an absolutely outrageous and disgusting slur".
Two days earlier, the deputy head of mission of China's embassy in Australia, Wang Xining, said Australia's push for an inquiry into the origin and spread of Covid-19 had been "shocking" and had hurt China's feelings, and dismissed the suggestion the Chinese government was trying to interfere in Australia's internal affairs or influence Australian society.
Mr Morrison's post on WeChat went on to appeal directly to the Chinese community.
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"But this is not how you deal with them".
In Washington, the National Security Council said: "Australian wine will be featured at a White House holiday reception this week". He is considered a leading representative of Beijing's new assertive approach to foreign relations.
Responses that came to the tweet from those springing to Australia's defense referred to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and the repression and persecution of Muslims in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang.
The Chinese Ambassador to Australia refuted the unwarranted accusations as absolutely unacceptable, read the statement.
"The Foreign Secretary [Dominic Raab] has made clear we will always stand shoulder to shoulder with Australia to make sure that we protect our key interests and values", the spokesperson said.
The image, which sparked a backlash across Australia, was captioned "don't be afraid, we are coming to bring you peace!" and apparently referenced a recent publication by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Inspector General, a report on alleged war crimes committed by Australian soldiers deployed in Afghanistan.
China is the most important export market for Australian wine, and winemakers are scrambling to find new markets following Beijing's decision to slap tariffs of up to 212% on Australian wine imports amid an escalating trade war between the two nations.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own.