China tells students to avoid studying in Australia

Chinas education ministry has warned Chinese students to consider whether to study in Australia, amid escalating tensions between Beijing and Canberra.The Ministry warned that there have been multiple cases of racial incidents targeting Asians in Australia amid the COVID-19 epidemic.
“Multiple discriminatory events against Asians happened in Australia during the epidemic outbreak,” the Ministry said in a statement published to its website today.
It urged students studying overseas to make a thorough risk assessment and to be “cautious” when choosing Australia as a destination.
The warning follows the issuing of a travel warning to Australia for Chinese tourists on Friday.
A spokeswoman for China’s minister of culture, Hua Chunying, defended the call at a press conference yesterday, accusing Australian politicians of “ignoring rampant racist abuse”.
“For example, some Australian politicians and media called the coronavirus a ‘Chinese virus’ and maliciously tampered with the Chinese national flag and national emblem,” she is quoted as saying in government-controlled publication The Global Times.
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“Many overseas Chinese in Australia have been verbally insulted or even attacked, (and) the property of some Chinese and other Asian families was destroyed and they suffered unfair treatment in their daily work.”
A University of Queensland student reportedly told The Global Times she received online and in-person abuse on campus recently.
“Anti-China news has been frequently seen on TV. We now choose to stay at home, and when I have to go outside and wear a mask, I avoid white people in case anything happens,” she said.
More than one third of all international university students in Australia come from China, with universities facing a shortfall of more than $12 billion in Chinese student fees if Beijing maintains its travel ban on Australia next year.
A spokeswoman for Australia’s Group of Eight – a coalition of the nation’s eight top-ranked universities – told 7 News while the China travel alert did not specifically refer to Chinese students coming to Australia, they were seeking further advice from the Chinese embassy.
“(We are) absolutely committed to our Chinese students and to maintaining a positive and collaborative relationship with China, and we look forward to being able to welcome them back to our campuses as soon as the health advice indicates that we can,” she said.
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Last month, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) reported that one in four people who lodged racial discrimination complaints in the past two months were targeted because of COVID-19.
Yet Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham rejected the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s travel alert in a statement on Friday, calling Australia “the most successful multicultural and migrant society in the world”.
“The Chinese Australian community is a significant and valued contributor to that success story,” he said.
“Millions of tourists from all corners of the world demonstrate their confidence in Australia as a safe, welcoming and amazing destination by visiting each year, often returning multiple times.
“We reject China’s assertions in this statement, which have no basis in fact. Our rejection of these claims, which have been falsely made by Chinese officials previously, is well known to them.”
– With wires