In the latest from their ongoing and increasingly nasty geopolitical row, China is accusing Australia giving a "free pass" to terror-sympathizers over accusations that Aussie politicians are backing Uighur activists and providing external support to Muslim fundamentalists in Xinjiang.
This latest diplomatic fight started when as news.au.com describes Chinese state media "seized on an article, published by fringe political group the Australian Citizens Party, criticizing local politicians’ support for the East Turkistan Australian Association (ETAA), a Uyghur advocacy group. The article claimed the ETAA supported terror groups in Xinjiang."
It was specifically Australia's Defense Minister Andrew Hastie and independent Senator Rex Patrick who were called out by Chinese media for supporting the ETAA activists, which Canberra later called "disinformation".
China's foreign ministry was quick to respond fiercely, pointing the finger Australian officials for "colluding with terrorists" and warning Canberra will surely be "burned" by the Uyghur groups it's backing. Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin additionally described "lies and smears" which target Xinjiang and China broadly.
"As some Western media are awash with lies and smears targeting Xinjiang, such objective and rational voices shows that justice will eventually prevail," Wenbin said. "We urge certain Australian politicians not to stand on the wrong side of history and to stop endorsing anti-China separatist activities and terrorist organizations to avoid getting burned itself."
Apparently the Australian political advocacy group which is at the center of the controversy does not have a wide following or much prominence in the Australian media landscape, yet as has happened with other countries and with similarly related issues, China seized upon the article in question to make it somehow representative of Australia's official stance.
Beijing was particularly angered at the article's language describing Xinjiang as "currently under the brutal occupation of the Chinese Communist Government."
The aforementioned Senator Patrick in return charged that Beijing was merely seizing on "disinformation" and that the whole row is "not immediately helpful" in terms of improving the plight of China's Muslim minority community.
"The focus of my attention has been to support those members of the Uyghur community in Adelaide and across Australia whose families are suffering the Chinese Communist Party directed genocide and oppression in Xinjiang," the Australian politician said in a statement.