In Brief

Sun Yang: China vs Australia Olympic doping row gets nasty

Chinese newspaper hits out at 'smug Aussie' Mack Horton after he calls swimmer Sun Yang a 'drugs cheat'

The Olympics is supposed to foster goodwill between nations, but it has precipitated what could become a major diplomatic row between China and Australia revolving around controversial swimmer Sun Yang.

The spat blew up after swimmer Mack Horton made it clear he did not believe that Sun, who served a three-month suspension for using a banned stimulant two years ago, should be at the Games and escalated after the Australian won gold in the 400m freestyle final.

Horton accused Sun of splashing him during the warm up before the race and later made references to drugs cheats and described his win as one "for the good guys". 

Sun broke down in tears after finishing second, leading to an outpouring of sympathy in his homeland.

China demanded an apology from Australia for Horton's comments but was told the swimmer was "entitled to express a point of view".

He was also afforded hero status in some parts of the Australian media, with the Australian Daily Telegraph lauding him as "our clean machine".

In response, the Chinese state-backed newspaper Global Times branded Horton a "smug Aussie" and accused Australia of being a white supremacist country with a "swaggering ego".

"The focus of the squabble will go beyond Horton's ill manners and silliness," said the paper. "The whole level of Australia's awareness of sports ethics and glory is as low as that of a young and brash kid.

"From China's perspective, Australia, an English-speaking and developed country, is a typical part of the Western world. But actually, Australia has always been a 'second-class citizen' in the West, and many people from Western Europe, especially the UK, feel condescension toward Australians."

It added that Australia was "a land populated by the UK's unwanted criminals" and that "in front of Asian countries, it cannot help but effuse its white supremacy".

The piece signed off by dismissing the row as a "trifling botheration" that would not mar China's enjoyment of the Games.

"The row is the latest in a growing history of diplomatic skirmishes between China and Australia, which depends on the emerging Asian superpower to bolster its resources-heavy economy," says the Daily Telegraph.

Chinese investment in Australia reached A$15bn (£8.86bn) in 2015, says the paper, and Australia has been warned in no uncertain terms to stay out of the sovereignty dispute between China, Japan and other states over the South China Sea.

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