Beijing issues travel warning . . .
China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a travel alert on Friday warning Chinese citizens not to travel to Australia in the wake of what it calls a “significant increase” in racist attacks against people of Chinese and other Asian origins during the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment countered, saying Australia was “the most successful multicultural and migrant society in the world” and that the claim of increased anti-Chinese race-based attacks has “no basis in fact.”
From threat to reality . . .
Australian experts view Beijing’s latest move as part of an escalating trend of China exerting diplomatic and economic pressure against Canberra. In April, China’s Ambassador to Australia publicly warned that Australia’s pursuit of an independent inquiry into China’s handling of the coronavirus through the World Health Organization could result in Chinese consumers boycotting popular Australian products such as beef and wine, and could lead to a reduction in the number of Chinese tourists and students choosing Australia. In May, Beijing slapped an 80 per cent tariff on the import of Australian barley, effectively shutting the door on a market that accounted for 50 per cent of Australia’s barley exports.
Hitting Aussies where it hurts . . .
Beijing’s restrictions are hurting the Australian economy. The barley ban is likely to disrupt about C$500 million worth of Australian exports. And while the travel ban will do little harm in the short term, as Australia’s borders remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, it will undoubtedly inflict economic pain once Australia re-opens its economy to international travellers. Before the coronavirus outbreak, China ranked number one among sources of Australia’s international tourists. Chinese tourists' 'market spend' was similarly ranked number one. Australia’s education sector will also be affected, with Chinese students accounting for the highest number of foreign student spots in Australian universities. The economic ramifications could be widespread and could contribute to Australia’s post-COVID economic recovery being anything but robust.
- ABC News: Australia says China travel warning ‘unhelpful’ amid escalating diplomatic row
- South China Morning Post: China warns against travelling to Australia after ‘sudden rise’ in violent attacks
- The Wall Street Journal: China warns citizens not to travel to Australia