Even after China’s efforts of putting restrictions on some Australian exports and urging Chinese tourists and students to avoid Australia, Scott Morrison- Australia Prime Minister said he would not be intimidated by “coercion” on Thursday.
Australian beef imports have been banned in and tariffs have been imposed on Australian barley in the recent weeks by China. Officials in Beijing have blamed racist attacks against Asians during the pandemic for all the warnings.
In a separate interview on 3AW, Morrison said, “That’s rubbish. It’s a ridiculous assertion and it’s rejected. That’s not a statement that’s been made by the Chinese leadership.”
Ever since, Australia called for an international inquiry into the source and spread of the new coronavirus which is reported to emerge from the Chinese city of Wuhan, diplomatic tensions have worsened between the cities of Beijing and Canberra.
Just last month, the World Health Assembly was prompted by Australia and the European Union to back an independent review into the coronavirus pandemic.
With a market worth A$38 billion ($26 billion) annually, International education stands as the fourth-largest export industry. Students were asked to reconsider their choice of studying in Australia by China’s Ministry of Education on Tuesday.
On Thursday, Morrison told radio station 2GB, “We are an open-trading nation, mate, but I’m never going to trade our values in response to coercion from wherever it comes.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, in a daily news conference has urged Australia to protect the safety of Chinese citizens and she has denied accusations of coercion and said the warnings were based on facts when asked about Morrison’s comments.
In Canberra, a protest was launched with China’s foreign ministry and with its embassy in Canberra about Beijing’s travel and student warnings. A coalition representing Australia’s elite universities, the Group of Eight, has said international education is “being used as a political pawn”.
A world class education is offered to students from more than 100 countries by the universities said Julie Bishop, the former foreign minister of Australia, now chancellor of Australian National University. Canberra is not only regarded as one of the safest cities in the country, but in the world as well, she added.
Because of travel bans to stop the spread of COVID-19, Many international students have been unable to return to Australia. ANU said most of its students remained enrolled and 65% of its Chinese students were in Australia.
As students from China are part of the collateral, this is a very tough time for the universities. This has created diplomatic tensions between China and Australia said Margaret Gardner, vice-chancellor of Monash University on ABC Radio.
With an annual two-way trade of worth $235 billion, Australia remains China’s largest trading partner.