Australia rejects China's racism warning to students, assures safety

WION Web Team
Sydney, Australia Published: Jun 10, 2020, 10:46 AM(IST)

File photo: Scott Morrison and Xi Jinping Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

China had urged its citizens currently studying or planning to study abroad to exercise caution while considering Australia as their destination.

Australian officials and leading universities on Wednesday rejected China's claims students should be "cautious" in choosing to study Down Under because of concerns over racist incidents during the coronavirus pandemic.

China had urged its citizens currently studying or planning to study abroad to exercise caution while considering Australia as their destination.

The advisory was the latest in an escalating dispute between Beijing and Canberra that was deepened by Australia's call for an independent inquiry into the origin and handling of the coronavirus in central China last year.

Also read: China warns citizens against studying in 'racist' Australia

To make its point, China referred to a series of racist incidents that targeted Asians in Australia, especially in the backdrop of COVID-19.

Australian Education Minister Dan Tehan hit back Wednesday, saying the country was a multicultural society that welcomed international visitors.

"Our success at flattening the curve means we are one of the safest countries in the world for international students to be based in right now," he said in a statement.

"We reject China's assertion that Australia is an unsafe destination for international students."

Racism toward Asians has reportedly increased during the pandemic, with the New South Wales anti-discrimination commission saying instances included people being bullied for wearing a face mask, spat at and harassed in public, and racist language written across cars and private property.

Australian universities are already facing massive losses as an indefinite coronavirus border closure locks out the foreign students who pump billions of dollars a year into the sector.

Beijing's travel advice was largely symbolic but could interfere with a proposal to create a "secure corridor" for overseas students to return to Australia.

Education is Australia's fourth-largest export -- behind iron ore, coal and natural gas -- with more than 500,000 international students enrolled last year, bringing about Aus$37 billion into the economy.

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