Source: Global Times
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
The latest conflict between China and Australia over a satirical cartoon reflects the increased frictions between Beijing and Canberra plus its main allies. The cartoon may be misunderstood by Australians. However, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison reacted very radically only two hours after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian reposted the cartoon. This reflects Morrison’s unhealthy mind-set. Some Western people are very unaccustomed to criticism from Chinese people. The West seems like a tiger that no one dares touch its backside.
Satirical cartoons include artistic exaggerations. It has made Australian officials uncomfortable. But think about it: How many times has the West produced cartoons that offend some non-Western people? Has the Five Eyes alliance, including Australia, criticized such cartoons? Australian forces have killed innocent Afghan civilians and admitted it. But why can’t they accept it when the Chinese Foreign Ministry follows up with criticism?
The US and other Western countries have been making harsh accusations against China, and the Trump administration has been repeatedly and wrongly using the term “Chinese virus.” Has the Five Eyes alliance ever publicly condemned such a vicious offense?
China and the Five Eyes Alliance do not adapt to each other. But when frictions occur, China’s response is relatively mild in the long run. Australia’s response this time does not match the diplomatic value of the matter itself. Morrison’s attitude is not only very tough, but also arrogant, as if Australia is completely innocent, and it is outrageous for the Chinese Foreign Minister spokesperson to post a tweet like that.
To put it simply, Australia has been spoiled in the Western dominance of the international public opinion field. Some Australian politicians believe it is the West’s unique power and right to accuse a country of killing innocent lives and trampling on human rights. Even if they have problems in this regard, only they can criticize themselves, but they believe it is not Chinese diplomats’ right to express their shock over Australian soldiers’ atrocities on Twitter. Their moral arrogance and narcissism are deeply ingrained.
The satirical cartoon that Zhao reposted has no problem in the context of Chinese people. Many Chinese netizens were already familiar with the cartoonist before the dispute. The controversy is whether Zhao, as Chinese Foreign Minister spokesperson, should give full consideration to the feelings of Australia and its allies?
We have to ask: Did Australian and US officials take Chinese people’s habits of acceptance and feelings into consideration when they made a sound loud enough to penetrate the Chinese public opinion field? Did US President Donald Trump do so when he wrongly used the term “Chinese virus?” Did Mike Pompeo care about Chinese people’s feelings when he called the Communist Party of China a “Marxist-Leninist monster?” Or has the Australian government ever considered when it fabricated accusations of the so-called Chinese penetration?
Generally speaking, China is quite cautious and takes into consideration the feelings of the US and its allies in rhetoric. But why do Chinese officials have to mind their words each and every time and prioritize the feelings of the other side? Given the increasingly hostile and radical attitude toward China by countries like the US and Australia, Chinese officials might as well go straightforward and hit their sore spots.
Since they have adopted a fiercer attitude toward China, countries such as the US and Australia must be prepared to face the justifiably unfriendly reaction of the Chinese people. The Chinese public need not be surprised to see the storm of words between China and the US and Australia. Adaptation will be formed during frictions. Both sides need to be able to endure the process of such frictions. And it’s highly likely endurance will gradually be formed.
Countries of the Five Eyes Alliance often stand on a united front. But they cannot represent the entire international community at all. We can even regard the Five Eyes as one country. China has done nothing wrong and we do not want to cause trouble.
However, we have also understood that tolerance alone leads to nowhere. Those countries hope that China will resign itself to their provocation and suppression. Otherwise, they would believe that China has become tougher or even a “Wolf Warrior.” Just let them bluff, and let us stay magnanimous.