China attacks Australia at UN review
China has used a United Nations review to accuse Australia of breaching human rights by using "false" information to make "baseless charges" against other countries, in a blatant political attack in breach of the international body's protocols.
The Asian super power attempted to derail Australia's major four yearly UN human rights review overnight, telling the world the Morrison Government must stop "using false information … to make baseless charges against other countries for political purposes".
The unfounded attack came despite a warning from Human Rights Council president Nazhat Shameem Khan not to use the review for political purposes. "I wish to reiterate that issues of a political bilateral and territorial nature should be kept out of our deliberations," Ms Khan warned the UN members.
China's delegate also hit out at Australia for its handling of racial discrimination, offshore detention centres and alleged war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
"(Australia should) thoroughly investigate the war crimes committed by the Australian military overseas military operations, pursue the responsibilities of perpetrators, and prevent impunity and recurrence of similar crimes," China's spokesman said.
China's attack followed 12 months of increasingly sour relations with Australia, including an escalating trade war and disputes about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
Australia has also joined the international community in condemning serious human rights abuse in China, including the appalling treatment of Uyghur people, ongoing crackdowns on dissenters, censorship and tough new security laws imposed on Hong Kong.
During Australia's UN review, several other nations highlighted concerns with its treatment of minorities, and its slow progress in closing the gap with indigenous people.
Representatives from Denmark, Iran and Syria also recommended Australia fully investigate the allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan.
However Afghanistan did not mention the incident in its own review of Australia. Syria also urged Australia to repatriate the children of foreign fighters.
About 31 nations called on Australia to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years.
The review was Australia's third time through the process, which involves all 192 members of the UN making recommendations to improve human rights.
Originally published as China attacks Australia at UN review