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COVID-19: China warns students to think twice before choosing Australia due to racist incidents

COVID-19: China warns students to think twice before choosing Australia due to racist incidents

School of Business graduates toss their hats into the air for family members to take pictures outside the main building at the University of Sydney in Australia. (File photo: Reuters/Jason Reed)

BEIJING: China on Tuesday (Jun 9) urged students going overseas to study to think carefully before choosing Australia, due to a spate of racial incidents targeting Asians in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Education's warning comes days after the Chinese culture and tourism ministry advised citizens against travelling to Australia due to racial discrimination and violence stemming from the coronavirus outbreak, which first emerged in China in late 2019.

In its statement, the education ministry reminded "overseas students to conduct a good risk assessment and be cautious about choosing to go to Australia or return to Australia to study."

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told the ABC's Radio National on Monday that there had been racist incidents.

"But I think the idea that Australia, in any way, is an unsafe destination for visitors to come to is one that just does not stand up to scrutiny," he said.

READ: Australia says China unresponsive to its pleas to ease tensions

READ: China hits Australia with barley tariff in latest blow to relations

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported on Sunday a survey conducted by the Per Capita think tank had documented 386 racist incidents - ranging from abuse to physical intimidation and spitting - since Apr 2.

Relations between Australia and China have become strained in the wake of the pandemic as Australia has proposed an international inquiry into how the COVID-19 outbreak in China became a global pandemic.

China has since imposed tariffs on imports of Australian barley and blocked beef imports from several Australian sources, though Beijing has denied its actions are connected to the COVID-19 dispute.

Australia has also spoken out over China's proposed national security laws for Hong Kong, which critics say undermines the freedoms in the former British colony.

The Australian dollar slipped further on Tuesday on the Chinese education ministry's warning, falling 1 per cent to $0.6951. 

Source: Reuters/lk

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