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Australia’s Foreign Minister gives China ‘a diplomatic punch on the nose’

Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne has warned China and Russia are deliberately spreading misinformation around the coronavirus pandemic, to destabilise democracy and improve their own reputations.

Speaking at the Australian National University in Canberra last night, Ms Payne sent a clear message to the two countries.

“Misinformation during a pandemic will cost lives,’ she said.

“Concerningly we have seen disinformation pushed and promoted around the coronavirus pandemic, and around some of the social pressures that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The European Commission issued a report last week that concluded foreign actors and countries, in particular Russia and China, had carried out targeted disinformation campaigns seeking to undermine democratic debate and exacerbate social polarisation, and improve their own image in a COVID-19 context.”

Neil Mitchell says Ms Payne’s comments were “spot on”, but he’s “amazed she did it”.

“You reckon China was difficult before? Hold on to your hats!” the 3AW Mornings host said.

“They’re warning us, they’re threatening us, they’ve got a trade war going, and she comes out and gives them a diplomatic punch on the nose, very publicly.

“Now China loses face, not just because of what it did but because Australia shows it will stand up for what it believes in.

“I’m not sure what the Australian strategy is here but I guarantee a response from Beijing, and it’ll happen quickly.”

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Image: Lisa Maree Williams