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Australia was rocked by the falsified photo shared by a Chinese diplomat showing an Australian soldier committing war crimes. This comes a week after Prime Minister Scott Morrison pushed back on Chinese assertions that Australia was a "deputy sheriff" to the United States and less than two weeks after the release of the Brereton Report regarding alleged war crimes committed by Australian Special Air Service (SAS) in Afghanistan.
This is not coincidental. As United States Studies Centre (USSC) Director of Foreign Policy and Defence Ashley Townshend explained to the AFR in July, "There is some new behaviour in terms of Chinese tactics, assertive wolf warrior diplomacy, and disinformation is part of that." Awareness of the "wolf warrior" mindset is an important first step but countering these tactics is another challenge altogether.
This year the USSC hosted a webinar with Zack Cooper and Laura Rosenberger from the German Marshall Fund to discuss: How can democracies fight back against state-backed disinformation campaigns? This discussion provides critical guidance for a trend that is only expected to accelerate in 2021 as democracies like Australia and the United States deal with more overt and more frequent government sanctioned disinformation.