Canberra has accused Beijing of sharing a “repugnant” and pretend picture of an Australian soldier holding a bloodstained knife to the throat of an Afghan baby in a substantial escalation of diplomatic tensions.

Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister, stated on Monday that his authorities had protested to Beijing over the “deeply offensive” publish on Twitter by a spokesman for China’s overseas ministry and demanded or not it’s taken down.

“The Chinese language authorities ought to be completely ashamed of this publish. It diminishes them on this planet’s eyes,” stated Mr Morrison. “Australia is searching for an apology from the Ministry of International Affairs and we’re searching for or not it’s faraway from Twitter.”

Zhao Lijian, a daily critic of Australia, tweeted a computer-generated picture depicting an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan baby, which has its head wrapped within the nation’s flag. “Don’t be afraid we’re coming to convey you peace,” ran a line of textual content beneath the picture.

China castigated Australia this month after Canberra published a battle crimes report, which alleged that 39 Afghan civilians had been murdered by members of the nation’s particular forces.

“Shocked by homicide of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian troopers. We strongly condemn such acts, & name for holding them accountable,” Mr Zhao wrote.

China’s overseas ministry rejected Australia’s requires an apology, saying Canberra ought to “really feel ashamed” and “provide an official apology to Afghan folks for its troopers’ killing of harmless Afghan civilians”.

The tweet was the most recent salvo to be fired in a diplomatic and commerce dispute that erupted after Canberra demanded an unbiased inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Zhao has stated the battle crimes report uncovered Australia’s “hypocrisy” in relation to its common promotion of “human rights” and “freedom”.

Mr Zhao has spearheaded a newly aggressive tone adopted by Chinese language diplomats, often known as “wolf warrior” diplomacy, named after an explosion-packed motion blockbuster with jingoist overtones.

He was labelled a “racist shame” final yr by Susan Rice, a former nationwide safety adviser to President Barack Obama, after he posted a tweet about race relations in Washington neighbourhoods.

“There’s a saying ‘black in & white out’, which signifies that so long as a black household enters, white folks will give up, & worth of the house will fall sharply,” he wrote in July 2019.

Mr Zhao was promoted to overseas ministry spokesperson the next month.

He additionally makes use of his Twitter account, which has greater than 776,000 followers, to hawk disinformation. In March, he lent credence to a conspiracy idea that claimed Covid-19 could have been dropped at China by the US army.

The picture tweeted on Monday was created by a Beijing-based artist who goes by the identify Wuheqilin, a self-described “wolf warrior” political painter who goals to “make folks extraordinarily indignant”.

Previous works by Wuheqilin have typically focused the US or different perceived enemies of Beijing. In a single picture, he created a caricature of the Statue of Liberty surrounded by Hong Kong protesters with the caption “You imagine in a Pretender God”.

ABC, Australia’s nationwide broadcaster, reported on Monday that Russia had additionally criticised Canberra over what it described as a “really surprising” battle crimes report.