Signs that the relations between Australia and China are getting frostier this winter.
A Chinese developer bought an Australian Island and banned Australians from the area, including barring residents from their homes.
Residents say they can’t go back to their homes since developer China Bloom bought a 99-year lease to take control of Keswick Island in 2019.
“I just don’t think they want Australians on the island,” former island resident Julie Willis told the news program “A Current Affair.” “I think that they want to have this island solely for the use of the Chinese tourism market.”
The Chinese developer has gone as far as banning residents from renting their homes on Airbnb, which residents say has ruined tourism, and blocking them from entering the island from air, land and sea.
It also appears that Australians are being deterred from purchasing property on the island as well.
Willis and her partner Robert Lee say that their problems were further compounded when they were told by the developer they had three days in February to vacate the property they had been renting without a problem for six years. The couple then tried to purchase a property but were told by China Bloom that they had to pay 100,000 AUD ($70,000) as a deposit so any damage to the property could be fixed.
Willis said: “I think they’re trying to deter us from buying the property. They don’t want us here.”
Meanwhile, tensions between Australia and China have escalated over a fake picture on a government Twitter account that depicted an Australian soldier murdering an Afghan child.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Beijing should be “utterly ashamed” for sharing the “repugnant” image.
It comes amid escalating political tensions between the two countries.
…Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao posted a fabricated image which portrayed an Australian soldier with a bloody knife next to a child. The child is seen holding a lamb.
The image appears to be a reference to previously reported allegations that elite Australian soldiers used knives to murder two 14-year-old Afghan boys. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported the ADF report did not substantiate those allegations.
In response, the Chinese embassy says Australia ‘misread’ the offending social media posts.
Relations between China and Australia have plunged to a new low this morning with Chinas foreign ministry spokeswoman refusing to apologise over an official tweet showing a FAKE image of an Australian soldier threatening an Afghan child with a knife. @KerrieYaxley #9News pic.twitter.com/oMHbC0N2ms
— 9News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) November 30, 2020
“The rage and roar of some Australian politicians and media is nothing but misreading of and overreaction to Mr Zhao’s tweet,” the Chinese embassy in Canberra said in a statement on Tuesday.
Australia’s Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary had called ambassador Cheng Jingye on Monday to complain about the social media post, it confirmed, adding that Cheng had “refuted the unwarranted accusations as absolutely unacceptable”.
Australia was seeking to “stoke domestic nationalism”, and “deflect public attention from the horrible atrocities by certain Australian soldiers”, it said.
And while the relations between Australia and China haven’t been warm, they got much frostier in the wake of Australian officials correctly assessing China’s role in the coronavirus pandemic.
Relations have been frosty for years but deteriorated further this year after Morrison in April called for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. The Chinese government dubbed Morrison’s proposal “political manipulation.”
But it isn’t just about Australia. Experts say it bears the hallmarks of a long campaign by Beijing to distract from its own human rights abuses and polish a narrative that, unlike the US and its allies, the Chinese government is interested only in peace and non-intervention with the international community.
“It’s certainly aimed at Australia … but it is also aimed at telling the world the terrible things that the US and its allies do around the world,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Based on Australia’s current dealings with the Chinese, there is little doubt that China’s regional ambitions will continue to expand.DONATE
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