A diplomatic war of words between Australia and China over a graphic tweet seemed to finally cool on Thursday as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison struck a much more conciliatory tone. Morrison’s change in approach came even after he was thwarted in getting his views out directly to Chinese people over the messaging app WeChat , after the company deleted his post on the grounds it could distort historical events and confuse the public. Earlier this week, Morrison expressed indignation and anger at the tweet posted by a Chinese official that showed a fake image of a grinning Australian soldier holding a bloodied knife to a child’s throat. The post took aim at alleged unlawful killings and abuses by Australian soldiers during the conflict in Afghanistan. Morrison called the tweet “truly repugnant” and “deeply offensive” and demanded an apology from China. But China did not back down, saying that Australia should be the one examining its actions. WeChat blocks Australia PM’s message over China’s war crimes tweet Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying on Thursday declined to comment further on the controversy, and told reporters at a daily briefing that WeChat’s management had their “own rules and regulations”. On Thursday, Morrison took a much different approach, telling reporters in Canberra that his aim was for the two countries to have a “happy coexistence”. “My position and my government’s position is to seek constructive engagement,” he said. “The relationship with China is a mutually beneficial one. It supports both our countries, it is good for both of our countries.” China is Australia’s largest trading partner. Morrison said Australia had made its views very clear on both the tweet and the WeChat message. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he was disappointed about both the tweet and the deleted post. “What the prime minister did in his WeChat message before it was disappointingly deleted was he made it very clear Australia is proud of its servicemen and women who wear the uniform,” Frydenberg said. China doubles down on criticising Australia over actions in Afghanistan Meanwhile, a Chinese newspaper took aim at New Zealand and its Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday for supporting Australia’s position. The Global Times , controlled by Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily , suggested New Zealand is “like bleating sheep” in backing Australia over the controversial tweet. It also suggested Ardern was effectively coerced into supporting Australia. On Tuesday, Ardern said New Zealand supported Canberra’s position and voiced her government’s concerns with Chinese authorities. “This is an image that wasn’t factual. It wasn’t correct. And so in keeping with our principled position where images like that are used, we will raise those concerns and we’ll do it directly,” she said. In reply, the Global Times published an editorial denouncing New Zealand, claiming “Kiwis bleat like Aussie sheep but don’t condemn Afghan killings”. Echoing comments by China’s foreign ministry, the piece conceded the image in the tweet was fake but justified it by saying it was “based” on allegations of incidents involving Australian soldiers. ‘Put away the megaphone’, ex-Australia PM Rudd tells both Beijing and Canberra “The consecutive moves of Canberra and Wellington to describe the cartoon as ‘false’ or ‘unfactual’ are actually trying to shift people’s attention away from Australian troops’ brutality against Afghan civilians,” it said. The editorial claimed Ardern was effectively forced into making the statement due to the closeness of trans-Tasman relations. “Arden’s statement has nothing to do with being wise or unwise; it is something she has to say.” New Zealand’s new foreign minister says China relationship is mature The Global Times noted the “restraint” in Arden’s language, but criticised her for a “double standard”. “Ardern has demonstrated that New Zealand will not stop playing double-standard tricks the West uses so often. This is also part of the so-called Western values – the freedom to be hypocrites.” The rift between Beijing and Canberra has grown since the Australian government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. China has since imposed tariffs and other restrictions on a number of Australian exports. New Zealand has yet to face trade difficulties with China.