Chinese Students Turning Off Melbourne after Crime Wave

Chinese Students Turning Off Melbourne after Crime Wave
Photo Credit : Corbis/達志影像

Translated and compiled by: Yuan-ling Liang

Chinese students are choosing new destinations to study after a spate of targeted attacks in Melbourne. 

According to the Victoria police, 69 people that have been arrested since January for robbery and theft all targeted Chinese students.

Witnesses and victims have posted their experiences online. One of them even witnessed a Chinese girl’s phone being snatched while she was texting. The witness says, “these robbers seem to be well trained so it’s hard to react upon the robbery.” Other students were hit and wounded by gangsters. [Quote translated]

Herald Sun reports, the thieves are believed to come from the Apex gang, a local gang in Melbourne composed mostly of young Sudanese men. Most of their activities take place at night in central Melbourne.

According to one investigation, Chinese exchange students are seen as easy targets. They are mostly wealthy and are less likely to fight back when being robbed. Additionally, the latest digital devices owned by these students can usually be sold at high prices for drug money.

Some of the suspects have been arrested and further investigations are being carried out. The Victoria police says it will increase both overt and covert patrols to ensure student safety at the University of Melbourne.

Chinese students concerned about their safety

One Chinese student interviewed says that the crime wave may lead to a decrease in Chinese students’ will to study in Melbourne. Prospective students may even give up their applications. These students chose the city for its safety. However, current cases have led to serious concern.

On April 18, a post on Weibo, a Chinese online forum, discussed the phenomenon with exchange students in Australia.

Students thinking about studying in Melbourne comment, “I’m not going there anymore,” “So frightening,” and “I’m going to ANU (Australian National University) instead.”

A student,  with the web ID name GreenGod, studies at the Columbia University in the US and describes the discrimination towards Chinese students in Western countries. He says that Chinese students are usually nice and kind to foreigners, but they are still easily targeted by other students. Even if an incident takes place, the police don’t seem to care about these Chinese students and are always on the westerners’ side. When these Chinese students seek help from diplomats, the bureaucrats rarely respond to them. GreenGod writes that he feels a great sense of humiliation for being Chinese. He loves China but also finds it tiring to love his country.

Australia’s dependency on Chinese students

In 2014, the international education industry brought Australia more than AU$17 billion (approximately US$13 billion) and has become one of its top industries. The 460,000 Chinese students occupy 20% of the amount of international students in the country.

Richard James, director of the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, reminds students to be careful of their personal safety and recommends the use of personal alert safety systems. He states that the school can provide 24-hour safeguarding if the students are in need.

Daniel Andrews, premier of Victoria, reassures Chinese families by emphasizing that Melbourne is still the best city to live in and that sending their kids there is “still the best choice.”

Edited by Olivia Yang

“Gangs of thugs prey on Chinese University of Melbourne students" (Herald Sun)
“Chinese students at University of Melbourne targeted in crimewave" (The Guardian)