Lab work is continuing in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic – from expanded testing to the pursuit of a vaccine. But there are political aspects to this story as well, and that includes growing tension between two important trading partners in the Asia Pacific.
China’s government is warning students to be cautious about studying in Australia. The Ministry of Education issued a statement urging students to “take caution in choosing to go to Australia or return to Australia for their studies.”
Just last week, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism warned that Chinese citizens should, “by no means travel to Australia” because of an increase in racist incidents.
Australia’s Ministers of Tourism and Education have both rejected any safety issues — although there have been reports of racist abuse in Australia aimed at people from Asian countries.
But this is just the latest cooling of relations between China and Australia. They go back to Australia’s demands for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, and China’s behavior in the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan.
Restrictions have been put on some Australian exports to China – its largest trading partner.
Australia’s Foreign Minister has accused China of “economic coercion.”
China is the single largest source of international students for Australia---more than a quarter of them, according to education market research company ICEF Monitor.
The BBC quotes a Sydney University professor who’s studied the topic as saying Australian universities could lose more than 8-billion U.S. dollars over the next two years if Chinese students drop their plans to study in the country.