China’s insult to Aussie MPs
China's state-controlled media has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to "muzzle" China critics including Liberal MP Andrew Hastie or risk a new Cold War.
Describing the former SAS captain as "a thug of the United States", the newspaper The Global Times has unleashed a barrage of articles over the weekend targeting Mr Hastie, and a group of Australian MPs known as the "Wolverines" for their criticism of China's human rights abuses.
Warning that China could "target" the Wolverines, the newspaper has even attacked Mr Hastie and a Labor MP Kimberley Kitching for dining with the US ambassador Arthur B Culvahouse in Canberra, claiming the diplomat was made an honorary member of the Wolverines and was even given their secret code - a small sticker with four claw marks.
The article claims the duo dined "as the pandemic raged" in Australia despite the fact there were only a handful of cases in Canberra at the time and such gatherings were allowed.
"The relationship between Australia and the US is very close in every way. It is an open secret that anti-China groups like the Wolverines could be used to undermine relations between China and Australia at the behest of the US," Ruan Zongze, executive vice president and senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times.
"These anti-China politicians are motivated by their interests and are happy to be thugs of the US to enhance their presence without considering China-Australia relations or Australia's interests."
The Global Times, which is regarded as a de facto spokesman for the Communist regimen, has also accused another Liberal Senator James Paterson of meddling, claiming he had "stuck his nose in Hong Kong affairs" - a reference to his support for pro-democracy protests.
"Chinese academics are urging the Morrison government to stop extreme groups like the Wolverines and politicians and commentators from spreading the US' anti-China virus,'' the article stated.
"Unless this happens, Australia could find itself involved in a China-US 'Cold War' due to cheap tricks from second-rate politicians who play the China card while hurting bilateral economic co-operation and trade amid COVID-19."
The Wolverines are described as a secret bipartisan group, consisting of Australian members of parliament who take a hawkish line on China, who have been "making noise to stir hatred against China".
The article notes the name of the Wolverines may be a reference to the US film Red Dawn starring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen.
"Wolverines like Hastie's extreme ideological rhetoric are missing the point. The key to whether Australia can grow as a middle power on the global stage rests with its ability to maintain good relations with China," Wang Shiming, professor with School of Advanced International and Area Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times.
"All rational people understand that under the impact of the pandemic, Australia should not push China, which is its largest trading partner at this juncture," Mei Xinyu, a trade expert described as close to the Ministry of Commerce, also told the Global Times.
"China has been tolerant and only hopes that sound and mature minds within the Australian government can stop the words and actions of such immature anti-China groups", Mei said.
"But if China is forced to implement countermeasures, China would target the extremely anti-China Australian politicians and their related forces."
Su Hao, founding director of the Centre for Strategic and Peace Studies at the China Foreign Affairs University makes the bold claim to The Global Times that the coronavirus did not originate in China.
"Many Australians believe COVID-19 originated in China, and they may discriminate against the Chinese because they ignorantly believe it's the Chinese people who spread the virus," he said.
"Australian media has been criticising China's so-called 'Wolf Warrior' diplomacy and yet they have spared no effort in complimenting their version of 'Wolverines'. This is ridiculous. Chinese diplomacy is becoming tougher because Western countries, especially the US and Australia, routinely attack China's diplomacy and economy. China has been forced to get tough."
The increasingly shrill rhetoric from the Communist regime's media outlet follows recent skirmishes over barley tariffs and threats to target Australian exporters.
Mr Hastie and Senator Kitching declined to comment on The Global Times' attacks.
Originally published as China's insult to Aussie MPs