China has responded to Australia’s decision for government officials to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics, with an incendiary blast for the US’s “no.1 lackey”.
China’s state-affiliated media organisation reacted quickly to Australia’s announcement on Wednesday morning, publishing a reply to an Australian media article about the snub.
“#Comment: No. 1 US lackey”, the official Global Times account said, accompanied by an illustration of a kangaroo in the air, holding onto a balloon dressed in the US flag.
The response from Beijing’s media outlet coincided with Chinese Embassy in Canberra officials labelling the move “political posturing”.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision was made due to human rights abuses in China, and that Australia’s stance was “not surprising”.
In a statement just hours later, China’s embassy in Canberra said Australia’s decision ran counter to its publicly pronounced expectation to improve China-Australia relations.
“As we all know, the blame for the current predicament of China-Australia relations lies squarely on the Australian side,” it said.
“China once again urges the Australian side to take practical measures to create favourable conditions for improving bilateral relations.”
It also noted Australia’s diplomats were not required to attend.
“Australia’s success at the Beijing Winter Olympics depends on the performance of Australian athletes, not on the attendance of Australian officials, and the political posturing by some Australian politicians,” the statement read.
“Mountains can not stop the river from flowing into the sea.”
The Global Times expanded on its response on Wednesday afternoon, quoting the Chinese embassy saying that Australia’s decision to boycott Beijing went against improving ties with China.
Australia’s decision followed US President Joe Biden’s announcement of an American diplomatic boycott of the Games.
Mr Morrison said Australia would not step back from standing up for Australia’s interests.
While the Chinese government has warned of further sanctions against nations that boycott of the Olympics, Mr Morrison said such a move would be unacceptable.
“There would be no grounds for that whatsoever,” he said.
“I’ll always stand up for Australia’s interests and what Australians believe is right, and we are living in an uncertain time.”
President Biden cited the Chinese government’s ongoing genocide against minority Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses as a reason for not sending officials to Beijing for the Games in February.
The move comes after growing diplomatic tensions between Australia and China, with China imposing export bans on Australian goods.
China has also criticised Australia’s alignment with the AUKUS alliance and the decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.