China's travel warning a result of Australian animosity, rocky bilateral ties

By Zhang Han Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/7 19:24:42

China Australia File photo

China's official warning against travel to Australia is reasonable given abundant evidence of the latter's racist acts targeting Chinese and other Asians, which have risen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and rocky bilateral relations, Chinese analysts said on Sunday, noting that Australia should have considered the costs when introducing anti-China policies earlier. 

Industry insiders reached by the Global Times noted that Chinese people are unwilling to travel to the country after its early announcement of a travel ban, smearing China over the COVID-19 pandemic and spats over 5G and foreign investment issues. 

China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a travel alert on Friday, warning Chinese people not to travel to Australia, as the country has seen a significant rising trend of racial discrimination and violence against Chinese and other Asian people due to the pandemic.

Australian Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham, in rejection of the warning, claimed Australia was "the most successful multicultural and migrant society in the world" and "the Chinese-Australian community is a significant and valued contributor," Australian media reported. 

Birmingham also cited the prosperous tourism sector in Australia as evidence of the country's popularity and safety.  

But Chinese analysts said that Birmingham's rebuttal was weak as it boasted of historical successes while failing to recognize the anti-China atmosphere that had risen in the past months, which betrayed its cultural traditions and instigated racism.

Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center at East China Normal University in Shanghai, noted that the Australian government's acts ranging from travel bans to smearing China over the pandemic had led to discriminatory acts by its common people. 

A partial survey of media reports and social media posts found frequent discriminatory incidents against Chinese and other Asians. Aside from verbal insults, a Chinese student from Hong Kong was punched in the face and injured for wearing a face mask in March, and a pair of Chinese students were attacked and injured by local gang members in broad daylight in April.  

Australia was also one of the earliest countries to follow the US to announce a travel ban on people from the Chinese mainland effective on February 1. 

The Australian side should recognize the real problem rather than hiding its head in the sand and criticizing the China's responsible and reasonable advisory for the sake of its citizens' safety, Chen said. The travel alert aims to help Chinese nationals avoid inconvenience and safety risks after international travel restrictions ease in the future, but it also reflects the bigger picture of worsening bilateral relations, Chen told the Global Times on Sunday.  

Australia-initiated unwelcoming moves extend beyond the pandemic issue - policies that exclude Huawei from 5G network construction and restrict Chinese investment in the country have also sparked spats.  

Australia has become a close collaborator of the US in its anti-China strategy at the expense of China-Australia relations, sending bilateral ties to a near-historic low considering the persistence and seriousness of the diplomatic difficulties, Chen said. 

Companies and citizens on both sides have expressed hopes for the Australian government to take actions to break the ice, but there is little hope that bilateral tensions could ease in the short term, Chen said. 

China is the biggest source of international visitors to Australia. The number of arrivals from China amounted to roughly 1.43 million between June 2018 to June 2019, increasing fourfold of 10 years ago and 15 percent of all international tourists, according to Australian official data.  

Chinese tourists also spent the most, contributing $12 billion or 27 percent of all tourist spending.  


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