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Australian campaign aiming to deflect bias

By KARL WILSON in Sydney | China Daily | Updated: 2020-07-11 09:27

Amid Canberra's tension with Beijing, the Australian business community and tertiary education sector have come together in a major advertising campaign on English and Chinese social media sites, called Australia Welcomes You.

It aims to deflect the negative bias coming from Canberra and fanned by local media against China. The campaign brings together the Chinese Australian Forum, or CAF, the Australia China Business Council, or ACBC, several universities, businesses and hotel groups.

Launched on July 6, the campaign mainly targets a Chinese audience and is carried on Weibo and WeChat.

CAF President Jason Yat-Sen Li said the move aims to elevate the voices of ordinary people above the heated political fray.

Organizers hope the campaign can go some way toward repairing the damage done to the Australia-China relationship in recent months, and reassure prospective tourists and students that Australia is safe and welcoming.

On Tuesday, the Australian government issued a travel advisory warning Australians in China that they "may be at risk of arbitrary detention in China" and said Australians should not go to China. So far, Canberra has given no reason for the warning, which surprised Australians living and working in China.

Continued commitment

Helen Sawczak, national chief executive of the ACBC, said: "Politically, the bilateral relationship has been under considerable strain lately, but that has not dampened our members' continued support and commitment to our economic relationship with China.

"This campaign aims to give a voice to business and ordinary people who want to send a simple message beyond the politics, that Australia is a safe and welcoming country, and that we value our long-standing friendship and cooperation with China," she told China Daily.

In June, China's Ministry of Education warned Chinese students to reconsider whether to study in Australia. The ministry warned there had been multiple cases of racial incidents that target Asians in Australia amid the pandemic.

More than one third of all international university students in Australia come from China. Their fees alone are worth more than A$12 billion ($8.3 billion).

In the 2018-19 financial year, Chinese tourists accounted for A$11.9 billion of all tourist expenditure, or more than 26 percent and three times more than the next largest Australian tourism spenders-people from the United States.

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