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Australia rejects China’s warning advising students to be ‘cautious’ about university return

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

It’s the latest in rising tensions between the two nations ever since Australia called for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.

Education minister Dan Tehan has rejected a warning by China against its students studying at Australian universities due to racist incidents during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Australia is a popular destination for international students because we are a successful, multicultural society that welcomes international students and provides a world-class education," Mr Tehan said in a statement.

"Our success at flattening the [coronavirus] curve means we are one of the safest countries in the world for international students to be based in right now."

China's Education Bureau reminded "overseas students to conduct a good risk assessment and be cautious about choosing to go to Australia or return to Australia to study".

Australia has more Chinese students at universities than from any other foreign nation.

Most international students were forced to return home in February when the Federal Government banned travel from several countries, including China.

Face-to-face classes will resume in July with about 1.5 million university students due back on campus.

Nine's political editor Chris Uhlmann said there had been a few isolated incidents against Chinese nationals during the peak of the pandemic but not enough to prompt the latest barb from Beijing.

"I am bewildered by the way this country constantly responds to the disputes between Australia and China because it's constantly painted as being Australia's fault," Mr Uhlmann told Today on Wednesday.

"It's China that's changed. China's actually bullying the world."

It's the latest in rising tensions between the two nations ever since Australia called for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.

Employees line up for medical workers to take swabs for the coronavirus test at a large factory in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Friday, May. 15, 2020. Wuhan have begun testing inhabitants for the coronavirus as a program to test everyone in the Chinese city of 11 million people in 10 days got underway.  (Chinatopix Via AP) CHINA OUT

"When you look at the pluses and minuses in this relationship and the way both countries have behaved, Australia has behaved in an exemplary manner and China has behaved like a bully."

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It comes just days after China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism advised the public to avoid travelling to Australia, citing racial discrimination and violence against Chinese people in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

That claim was swiftly rejected by Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, who said it was "falsely made by Chinese officials".

Last month, China slapped a tariff on imports of Australian barley as well as blocking beef imports from several Australian sources due to labelling issues, coinciding with Australia calling for an investigation into the origin of the COVID-19 virus in Wuhan.

Source: 9News

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