The Australia government has rejected China’s accusation of Australians attacking Chinese people during the coronavirus pandemic.
China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has advised the public to avoid travelling to Australia, citing racial discrimination and violence against Chinese people in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There has been an alarming increase recently in acts of racial discrimination and violence against Chinese and Asians in Australia, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the ministry said in a statement on Friday evening.
It did not give any specific examples of such discrimination or violence.
“We reject China’s assertions in this statement, which have no basis in fact,” Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said on Saturday.
“Our rejection of these claims, which have been falsely made by Chinese officials previously, is well known to them.”
He said it was unfortunate that Australia had to close its borders with China to protect the country from COVID-19 as it spread from Wuhan.
“This decision was criticised by the Chinese government at the time, but it proved to be a critical decision in keeping Australians safe from the devastation faced by much of the rest of the world,” he said.
“Australia is enjoying world-leading success in suppressing the spread of COVID-19 and, when the health advice allows, we look forward to again welcoming visitors from all backgrounds to our safe and hospitable nation.”
This is the latest is a series of frictions between the two countries.
China last month slapped a tariff on imports of Australian barley as well as blocking beef imports from several Australian sources due to labelling issues, coinciding with Australia calling for an investigation into the origin of the COVID-19 virus in China.
Labor’s Jason Clare believes there has been a spike in racist abuse during the pandemic and hopes Foreign Minister Marise Payne is talking to China.
“I hope that she’s on the phone talking to the Chinese government about this, as well as all of the other issues that seem to be a problem at the moment,” Mr Clare told ABC television on Saturday.
“I’m sure I speak on behalf of all of the tourist operators up and down and right across Australia when I say that we want to get tourists back when it’s safe to do so,” he said.
Liberal backbencher Jason Faliniski said clearly Australia is going through a more strained time with China than it has before.
“I think diplomacy is best done quietly and not done publicly and with a fog horn,” he told ABC television.
“I think that there have been unfortunate incidents where people have been blaming members of the Chinese community for the pandemic in Australia, so that’s something that we need to resolve.”
He said the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition have both spoken quite strongly against this.