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Tea Leaves

Anti-China drift imperils Australia's tolerant self-image

Political wrangles threaten to engulf Asia's perfect business couple

These are troubling times for the 1.2 million Australians who claim Chinese heritage, caught as they are in a political set-to between Beijing and Canberra that is testing Australia's reputation as a tolerant, multicultural society.

Chinese Australians make up more than 5% of the population and play a positive role in society, but their loyalty is under question, with sentiment moving against students, tourists and even long-time residents. COVID-19 has wiped out the flow of overseas visitors to Australia, but on the tourist-dependent Gold Coast recently, a local told me, "I'm happy the Chinese are not coming."

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