'Do not travel': Australia hits back at China's warning over 'alarming increase'

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·3-min read

The government has hit back at China after its education ministry warned students not to travel to Australia.

Education Minister Dan Tehan reassured Chinese students there was nothing to fear when returning to Australia in a statement on Tuesday.

"Australia is a popular destination for international students because we are a successful, multicultural society that welcomes international students and provides a world-class education," he said.

"Our success at flattening the [coronavirus] curve means we are one of the safest countries in the world for international students to be based in right now."

As well as suggesting the outbreak of coronavirus was not under control in Australia, China’s education ministry told students there were “multiple discriminatory incidents against Asians in Australia” amid the pandemic.

Finance minister Mathias Cormann rubbished the claims of a rise in racism.

Chinese students are being warned to reconsider the need to travel to Australia. Source: Getty
Chinese students are being warned to reconsider the need to travel to Australia. Source: Getty

"Australia is a successful multicultural society, we are a welcoming country, and we encourage all potential students who are considering higher education in a foreign country to come to Australia," he told reporters on Wednesday.

It comes just days after China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism warned its people not to travel to Australia.

"There has been an alarming increase recently in acts of racial discrimination and violence against Chinese and Asians in Australia, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," the ministry said.

“The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to enhance their safety awareness and do not travel to Australia.”

The latest warning could deal a heavy blow to Australia's education sector, which is heavily dependent on Chinese students.

It is the latest move from China perceived as retaliation to the Morrison government’s early and vocal calls for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.

Chinese Ambassador Cheng Jingye had previously threatened China would boycott Australian products and incoming tourism over the government’s “political” calls for an inquiry.

A ban on imports from four Australian abattoirs appeared to eventuate from those threats.

However China has categorically denied the recent decisions are related to the inquiry call.

China accused of ‘bullying’ Australia

In response to China’s latest move, Channel Nine's political editor Chris Uhlmann accused the Asian powerhouse of “bullying” Australia.

"I am bewildered by the way this country constantly responds to the disputes between Australia and China because it's constantly painted as being Australia's fault," Mr Uhlmann told the Today show.

"It's China that's changed. China's actually bullying the world."

On Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters China had “full evidence” to support claims of an increase in racist attacks in Australia.

Her response comes after Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said China’s claims had “no basis in fact”.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China had evidence to back its claims of an increase in racist attacks, leading to its calls for Chinese people to reconsider visiting Australia. Source: FMPRC
Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China had evidence to back its claims of an increase in racist attacks, leading to its calls for Chinese people to reconsider visiting Australia. Source: FMPRC

She listed a series of racist attacks which had been covered in Australian media while citing 241 racial discrimination complaints in NSW between January and April.

“Aren't those facts convincing enough?” she asked.

Ms Hua also called on state and federal governments to act in order to protect Chinese people in Australia.

“The Chinese government has been responsible in reminding Chinese citizens to make proper travel plans and protect themselves from harm,” she said.

“We also advise the Australian side to pay attention to the problems and take concrete measures to protect the security, rights and interests of Chinese nationals in Australia.”

The Chinese statement on Saturday came less than 24 hours after the Australian government tightened is foreign investment rules.

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