The country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has advised the public to avoid travel to the country, citing racial discrimination and violence against Chinese people following the global COVID-19 outbreak.
“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 (local time).
“Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial discrimination and violence against Chinese and Asian people in Australia have seen a significant increase,” the statement said.
“The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to enhance their safety awareness and do not travel to Australia.”
It did not give any specific examples of such discrimination or violence.
There have been reports of people of Asian appearance experiencing harassment and increased racism since the outbreak of the coronavirus began at the end of 2019, including in the United States.
China issued a warning to tourists travelling to the US earlier this year after some said they were mistreated in connection with the outbreak.
The warning also comes despite Australia’s travel ban remaining in place so no foreign visitors are allowed to enter the borders.
It comes as foreign relations between China and Australia turned increasingly sour following Scott Morrison’s call for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.
China’s Ambassador to Australia then suggested trade retribution, before the country slapped a crippling 80 per cent tariff on Australia’s $2 billion-a-year barley export industry and suspended beef imports from four major Australian meat works.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to enhance their safety awareness and do not travel to Australia.”
But Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack rejected the suggestion there had been an increase in racist attacks in Australia.
“There hasn’t been a wave of outbreaks of violence against Chinese people,” he said.
“I don’t know why this has been stated, I don’t know what was in the thinking of the organisation or the person who made the statement, all I can say is the statement is not true.”
But Australian Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the Chinese Government’s claims were false.
“We reject China’s assertions in this statement, which have no basis in fact,” 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.
“Australia is the most successful multicultural and migrant society in the world. The Chinese-Australian community is a significant and valued contributor to that success story.”
Asked whether he was concerned China’s decision could damage relations with Australia, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said he wanted to send a “positive message”
“What I want is for everyone to know, regardless of where they are anywhere in the world, that Australia’s a great place to visit,” he said.
The travel warning from China could further sour relations between the trade partners.
Last month, China announced an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley and blacklisted four major beef exporters due to labelling violations.
But Beijing denied that the measures were in retaliation to Australia’s call for an independent investigation into the global pandemic.
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected claims that Australia’s tightening of overseas investment security tests was made with China in mind.
Mr Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg revealed reforms into foreign investment that would include a stringent security test aimed at protecting critical assets.
Mr Morrison denied that the move was targeting China, adding that it should not further sour Australia’s relationship with the world’s most populous nation.
“I don’t believe it should,” he said.
“Countries make decisions on their own interests for their own rules and we respect the rules and interests of other countries, so I see no reason why that should be the case.
Australia will always design its foreign investment rules on that basis, as other countries do theirs, so I don’t think there is anything extraordinary about that.”
The latest developments will put further pressure on cash-strapped Australian universities and colleges, which are reeling in the wake of corona virus travel restrictions.