China’s Ministry of Education (MOE) issued a fresh warning on studying in Australia due to the recent anti-Chinese attacks in the country and the serious COVID-19 pandemic, a move that experts believe is prompt and necessary for the safety of Chinese students and also a result of the damaged and deteriorating China-Australia relations.
In the announcement issued on Friday, the MOE warned Chinese students to make a full risk assessment and consider carefully whether to go or return to Australia to study.
It noted that a series of vicious attacks on Chinese students that have happened recently in multiple places in Australia have posed a serious threat to their personal safety. The raging pandemic also makes international travel risky.
Australia once again became the first country that China’s MOE warned against studying in for 2021, after the MOE issued its first warning for Australia in June 2020.
Experts said the move is an evident result of the recent China-Australia relations that have been poisoned by the Australian government and its media.
“The Australian government's continuous attacks against China, which have been echoed by the media, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, has misguided the local Australian people to generate hostility toward the Chinese,” Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center at East China Normal University in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Friday.
There have been a growing number of reports of Chinese students being abused and beaten in Australia, apparently due to race, according to information provided by the China Education Association for International Exchange, a non-profit organization, to the Global Times.
In particular, there were such reports on three consecutive days in January. The attacks included physical abuse and verbal insults such as using racist words like chigga.
“The worsening discrimination problem that Chinese students face in Australia has reached an alarmingly high degree,” Chen said, adding that the MOE’s warning shows the responsibility of the Chinese government to ensure the safety of Chinese students studying in Australia.
He said that it can be foreseen that the Australian side might defend itself by saying that the reports of anti-Chinese attacks are only isolated cases in the country, and accused China of overreacting, just like what happened after China issued the warning in June 2020.
However, the intensity, frequency and severity of the discrimination that Chinese students are facing in Australia once again proves that it is necessary to warn the students and their parents to consider carefully going to the country to study, he noted.
About a dozen Chinese students in Australia reached by the Global Times also suggested Chinese applicants look at other countries considering the discrimination problem, the COVID-19 pandemic, visa restrictions and low-quality online teaching.
Education experts expressed support for the MOE’s warning, saying that travel restrictions and an unfriendly China policy, as well as other uncertainties, have brought psychological pressure to Chinese students.
Qin Lin, an associate research fellow at China's National Institute of Education Sciences, told the Global Times that there are other alternatives for students to choose for overseas study, such as the UK and Canada.
She said the number of students going to Australia dropped sharply in 2020 and is not expected to improve much in 2021.
China is also the biggest source of international students in Australia. The data released by the Australian Department of Home Affairs shows that more than 220,000 mainland Chinese students were registered in Australia in 2020.
Source: Global Times