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Australia

China’s ambassador urges Australia to do more to protect Chinese citizens after attack on three teen students in Canberra

Comments follow assault that heightened safety concerns among the local Chinese community

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 November, 2017, 6:34pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 November, 2017, 12:19am

China’s ambassador to Australia said China would “firmly” protect the legal rights of its citizens abroad and urged the Australian government to ensure the safety of Chinese students after an attack on three teenagers.

Cheng Jingye made the comments after visiting three Chinese high school pupils, who were assaulted at a bus station in Canberra on October 23.

Friends of the victims told The Canberra Times they had been approached by a group asking them for cigarettes and had been attacked when they refused.

One of the students needed hospital treatment.

Two youths have since been arrested in connection with the incident.

Cheng expressed deep concern over the assault and said China would offer consulate protection and help Chinese nationals to protect their rights, Xinhua reported Saturday.

Beatings of friendly students deal blow to friendly image of Australian capital

He urged the authorities in Canberra to take measures to protect students and prevent similar incidents from happening again.

He also asked the Australian guardians of these underage students to “take up their responsibilities”.

“The embassy would like to remind Chinese students in Australia to improve their safety awareness and underage students should avoid going out alone at night,” Xinhua quoted diplomatic staff as saying.

The incident sent shock waves through Canberra’s Chinese community, although local police have insisted the attack was not racially motivated.

Many Chinese students have since expressed fears about their safety, warning of other incidents of harassment and intimidation. Other community members had offered to transport them to and from school, The Canberra Times reported.

The embassy advised students: “When encountering emergencies like threats or even violent attacks, stay calm, call the police and contact the Chinese embassy immediately.”

All the three Chinese students had returned to school, the Chinese embassy said on Friday.

Li Qing, a talent research director at the Centre for China and Globalisation, a Beijing-based think tank, said Australia had become one of the top five destinations for Chinese to study abroad.

“It is increasingly preferred because of its openness to international students and immigration – a contrast to post-Brexit Britain and the United States under the Trump administration,” Li said.

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According to data from the Australian Department of Education and Training, 196,315 mainland Chinese students were studying in the country’s schools, universities and colleges last year, 15.7 per cent more than in 2015.

They now account for 27.5 per cent of the total number of international students.

Hong Kong students are the 10th largest international group studying in Australia, with their numbers rising by 10.3 per cent to 17,586 last year.

The Canberra attack is just one of many incidents that have increased safety concerns over the millions of Chinese citizens studying overseas – especially given the rising numbers of minors attending schools abroad.

“Chinese students and their guardians would do well to consider the choice of school and accommodation and change their habit of showing off their wealth in the public,” Li said. “Not everywhere is safe overseas, even in developed countries.”