Chinese students have again been warned against studying in Australia in a move that could worsen the already strained relationship with Beijing.

State-owned media has reported that China's Ministry of Education on Friday told students to make a "full risk assessment" about studying in Australia following reports of racism and concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

"It noted that a series of vicious attacks on Chinese students that have happened recently in multiple places in Australia have posed a serious threat to their personal safety," the Global Times wrote.

"The raging pandemic also makes international travel risky."

Australian universities rely heavily on the Chinese, who make up the largest cohort of international students.

Beijing first cautioned students about racist incidents against Asians and the pandemic in June last year in the midst of Australia's plans to allow international students to return to the country.

International students contribute large amounts of revenue to Australian universities. Picture: AAP Image/Paul Miller
International students contribute large amounts of revenue to Australian universities. Picture: AAP Image/Paul Miller

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However, the burgeoning number of Australian citizens wanting to return from overseas and restricted quarantine capacity has thrown a spanner in the works of returning planeloads of international students to campuses nationwide.

The Global Times reported that the education department warning was evidence that Australia had "poisoned" the relationship with China.

Shanghai-based Australian scholar Chen Hong - who had his visa cancelled by Australian officials after an intelligence investigation - said the "worsening discrimination problem" that Chinese students face in Australia has reached "an alarmingly high degree".

"The Australian government's continuous attacks against China, which have been echoed by the media especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, has misguided the local Australian people to generate hostility toward the Chinese," he said.

The Scanlon social cohesion study released this week found there was a "relatively high level" of negative opinion towards Asian Australians in 2020.

Three in five Chinese Australians responded the racism in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic was a 'very big' or 'fairly big problem'.

The UK and Canada have been raised as alternatives for Chinese students wanting to study overseas, heightening concerns from Australian universities that they could lose their pre-pandemic share of the market.

Originally published as Beijing launches fresh attack in trade war