China warns citizens to avoid Australia over racism
The Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism has issued a travel alert to its citizens warning them not to travel to Australia due to a "significant increase" in racist attacks on "Chinese and Asian people".
The statement issued on Friday said the alleged attacks came in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial discrimination and violence against Chinese and Asian people in Australia have seen a significant increase," the statement said.
"The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to enhance their safety awareness and do not travel to Australia."
Last month, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) reported that one in four people who lodged racial discrimination complaints in the past two months were targeted because of COVID-19.
In April, news.com.au reported on a shocking video that showed a gang allegedly attacking a pair of Chinese students as they were on their way home in Melbourne.
A Hong Kong student was also reported to have been punched in the face in Hobart for wearing a mask, during the early stages of the pandemic.
The travel warning comes after China's state-run tabloid Global Times published an editorial warning Chinese students to "be cautious about studying in Australia".
International students make up a huge part of Australia's economy, and some wonder whether these measures are to punish Australia for its call for an independent inquiry into the global pandemic.
Last month, China announced an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley and black-listed four major beef exporters due to labelling violations.
But Beijing denied the new trade measures were a retaliation.
Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan said that COVID-19-related discrimination against people of Asian backgrounds must be condemned.
"Coronavirus has nothing to do with race or nationality - and neither fear of the virus, nor frustration at the difficulties we all face, are excuses for discrimination," he said.
"People of all backgrounds are dealing with this crisis. No group can be singled out, and we must all work collectively to defeat it."
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Originally published as China warns against travel to Australia