Chinese students warned of racial attacks in Australia

By Liu Caiyu and Xu Keyue Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/10 0:08:40

Chinese and Australian national flags are seen at an event in Sydney, Australia. File photo: Xinhua

China's education authority issued an alert on Tuesday, warning Chinese students of the rising racial discrimination and the lingering coronavirus risks in Australia. 

The alert came after China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism warned Chinese residents last week not to travel to Australia. 

A number of incidents of discrimination against Asian people in Australia have occurred during the coronavirus outbreak, said the Ministry of Education (MOE), which released the warning on its website. The ministry said Chinese students should assess the risks and be cautious when choosing to study or returning to Australia.

The ministry said major universities in Australia are scheduled to open around July. It warned Chinese students as the spread of COVID-19 has not been effectively contained globally, that international travel and the reopening of schools "pose a risk" to their safety. 

Because of escalating tensions in Australia against Asian people, some Chinese students reached by the Global Times said going to Australia as a popular overseas study destination chills them, and education agencies said overseas study to Australia will be sluggish for at least a year. 

Chinese students and parents had already tasted the unfriendly reception of Australia against Asians, long before the MOE released the alert, Yuan Zhengxiang, the head of OvEdu Education, a Shanghai-based education agency, told the Global Times Tuesday. 

Previously, Chinese students and parents saw Australia as a fascinating country either for study or travel. But the recent abuse, discrimination and physical conflicts with Asian people in the country created an impression, Yuan said, noting many education agencies in China are in the doldrums. 

"Many small education agencies which promote Australia as the main overseas education market haven't received orders for months. The Australian education market won't recover within at least a year," Yuan said. 

As Australia reopens schools in July, many Chinese students are still stuck in China due to travel and flight restrictions. Many decided to postpone their studies to next year, some students said. 

Some Chinese students, who had planned to study in Australia, said the anti-China vibes and racist abuse targeting Asians in the country are escalating, which made them concerned for their safety in Australia.

A Chinese student surnamed Liu, who is waiting for offers for the master's program from Australian and New Zealand universities, said he would choose to study in New Zealand as racial discrimination and anti-China sentiment spike in Australia amid the pandemic.

Data from the Australian Human Rights Commission shows that in the first quarter of 2020, hundreds of Asians complained of racial discrimination, which made up a fourth of the complaints, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

China remained the largest source of international students in Australia, accounting for more than 38 percent in 2018. Overseas students bring in about $20 billion in revenue for Australia each year.

A Chinese PhD candidate surnamed Si, who was accepted by the University of New South Wales to study materials science and engineering, said that he dropped his plan to study in Australia after an extremely long wait - 22 months - since submitting his visa application.

Si had sent e-mails to the Department of Home Affairs to learn about the progress of his application and questioned Australia for targeting Chinese students over its political bias. However, the department informed him that his application is passing through the routine process for national security checks.

About 100 similar Chinese PhD candidates reached by the Global Times have suffered from similar difficulties in their visa applications, which outraged them. 

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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