As Australia still struggles with its latest tensions with China, Australia wants to hold on to the international students studying in the country.
Students from all over the world were urged by Australia’s finance minister to “consider Australia” because despite the tensions with China at the political level, the country as whole still remains “friendly” and “multicultural”.
Chinese students planning to study abroad were warned by the government to be cautious of choosing Australia as a destination for overseas education. There has been an increase in discrimination against Asians after the emergence of e novel coronavirus pandemic, which was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan, claimed China’s Ministry of Education while issuing the warning to the country’s students.
The mutual relationship between Australia and China has soured in recent weeks after Australia gave a call for a global level investigation into the origins of the coronavirus in China. This call angered Beijing.
“Any students around the world who’s considering a period of study in a foreign country, we would urge to consider Australia as a destination. This is a great place to come and study. Like all countries, of course we are managing issues … from time to time, but overwhelmingly, Australia is a very welcoming, open, transparent, friendly country,” said Australia’s Finance Minister Mathias Cormann when asked how concerned Australia was about China’s warning.
According to government data, Australia had more than 750,000 international students in 2019. The greatest portion of those foreign students enrolled in higher education is made up of students from China. According to reports, the fees from Chinese university students are worth about $12 billion Australian dollars ($8 billion) every year.
During the interview, Cormann trumpeted Australia as a “friendly” and “multicultural” society. “International students is a very important export market for us … Australia is an incredibly friendly, welcoming destination for international students. We are one of, if not the most successful, multicultural societies anywhere in the world.”
He is “certain” any international student “would have a good experience” in the country, he added.
The tensions between Australia and China have also spilled on to trade between the two countries. In addition to imposing huge tariffs for barley imported from Australia, China also suspended some beef imports from the country. And citing racial discrimination issues, China has also issued an advisory for its citizens not to travel to Australia.
About one third of all exports of Australia is sold to China which makes it the largest trade partner of Australia. The Australian exports includes agricultural and other commodities such as iron ore, and wine.
“From time to time, in a mutually beneficial relationship, there will be disagreements or specific issues, and our view is those issues should be worked through constructively and positively,” said Cormann when asked whether Australia can afford to not have good economic ties with China.
“It’s a very important trade relationship, and we do have a strategic partnership as well … and we want that relationship to be in the best possible shape. But when there are issues where Australia’s national interest is at stake, we will stand up for our national interest,” he added.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)