Police officers patrol near the Sydney Opera House following the implementation of stricter social-distancing and self-isolation rules to limit the spread of the COVID-19 in Sydney, Australia, on April 6, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]
The Ministry of Education issued an official warning against studying in Australia on Tuesday, suggesting that students and scholars assess the risks before deciding to study in the country.
Major Australian universities plan to resume classes in July, yet the COVID-19 pandemic has not been properly contained globally and there are still risks concerning international travel and opening schools, the ministry said.
There have been also incidents of discrimination against Asians in Australia, it said.
The ministry suggested that students and scholars should take a more prudent approach toward studying in the country, it added.
China has been cautious about issuing warnings related to overseas studies. It issued one warning last year for students going to the United States due to visa restrictions.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a travel alert on Friday warning Chinese people not to travel to Australia, as the country has seen a significant increase in racial discrimination and violence against Chinese and other Asian people due to the pandemic.
Chen Hong, director of the Australia studies center and professor at East China Normal University in Shanghai, said he does not encourage over-interpretation of the warnings, as they were made on the basis of the current global COVID-19 pandemic situation and the recurrent racist incidents in Australia.
Moreover, some high-level Australian government officials and media outlets have been making groundless and irresponsible criticisms of China, stoking the China threat conspiracy theory, he said.
"The Australian side needs to take concrete steps to eliminate the sources of such anti-China sentiments, and we hope Australia will make concrete efforts to improve bilateral relations," Chen said.