China warns students of 'safety risks' in returning to Australia
China's Ministry of Education issued a statement on Friday, warning Chinese students of "safety risks" in resuming studies in Australia due to "malignant attacks" during the coronavirus pandemic. The ministry reminded "students planning to study abroad to conduct a good risk assessment and be cautious about choosing to return to Australia."
There have been multiple discriminatory incidents against Chinese students reported in Australia.
On January 12, a female Chinese student was insulted and beaten by a group of six people in Sydney. The next day, a Chinese postgraduate student at Monash University was reported to have been abused by an unknown man after shopping near the campus, leading to cartilage damage in his nose. A Chinese student at Australian National University was attacked by a group of people at a bus station in Canberra, getting serious injuries to his jaw, right cheek and multiple abrasions on January 14. Such incidents have raised concerns among Chinese students and parents on the safety of studying and living in Australia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of Chinese students registered in Australia has seen a fall in recent years. Data from the Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment show that the country recorded a total of 684,600 international students from January to November in 2020, and the number of Chinese students saw a 10-percent drop compared with the previous year. Yet, China is still the biggest source of international students for Australia, accounting for 28 percent of the total.
From March to June in 2020, when Australia closed its border to curb the spread of COVID-19, some 130 international students arrived in the country with 22,280 students leaving, according to the Australian Department of Home Affairs.