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Close to 40% of Chinese Australians say they have endured discrimination in the past year because of their heritage, with the majority citing recent bilateral shifts between Beijing and Canberra and the COVID-19 pandemic as the two largest contributors, according to a recent report.  

Australian thin-tank the Lowy Institute's new survey further revealed that 18% of respondents had been physically abused or intimidated because they were Chinese in the 12 months before December 2020, while 31% had been called insulting names. 

The survey's co-author Natasha Kassam said more than 1,000 people were asked for their thoughts on life in Australia, their relationship with China, as well as views on foreign influence, interference, belonging, discrimination, immigration and security. 

Kassam said the worst relations between the two economic giants in decades have meant the separation between someone who is Chinese and the actions of the Chinese government has become entwined. Everyday people are suffering as a result, she said. 

"As that broader Australian debate around China has shifted over the past year, particularly in relation to foreign interference and economic coercion, it does seem Chinese Australians have borne the brunt," Kassam told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Chinese and Australian hostilities peaked at the end of 2020 after Beijing imposed trade strikes on billions of dollars worth of Australian exports

The strikes are thought to be a countermove to the Australian government's call for an "impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation" into the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic and fears that Australia is spearheading global criticism of China's activity in the South China Sea and Hong Kong. 

The survey's findings echo similar reports from 2020 that show coronavirus has fuelled racism against Asian Australians. 

The Asian Australian Alliance reported that in the two months leading up to June 2, 2020, 377 incidents of anti-Asian racism were registered, with women the most common sufferers. Around 35% of the abuse came in racial slurs, with jokes, verbal threats, physical abuse and being spat, sneezed and coughed on all similarly noted.


Demand Equity

1 In 3 Chinese Australians Faced Discrimination in Australia in 2020: Survey

By Madeleine Keck