Are Asian home buyers facing racist backlash in Australia?


Asia buyers are being blamed for the country’s skyrocketing property prices

chinese new year 2017 australia
A Chinese zodiac sign for snake on street display during Chinese New Year celebrations in Haymarket, Australia. Leah-Anne Thompson/Shutterstock

Stop incoming Asians.

Stop Asians applying for Public Housing Assistance.

Australia is not Asia.

These were some of the racist messages found defacing billboards commissioned by a Chinese real estate agency in the North Shore neighbourhood of Sydney this month.

Real estate agent Yancheng Wang discovered such messages twice on the billboards, located at a construction site in Ryde.

A vexed Wang reported the offending messages to the police, who have no leads to the perpetrators as of press time. “I always think Australia is a friendly country,” he told SBS. “My business has also been following local laws and regulations.”

Twenty-percent of Australian citizens have fallen victim to racially fueled incidents in 2016, according to a survey jointly conducted by SBS and Western Sydney University in August.

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More than half of survey respondents who were indigenous Australians called Australia “a racist country.” Around 39 percent of the general populace also shared the sentiment.

“There’s been a fair bit of education about what is racism and we’ve seen the ads on television (and) within public transport,” Reconciliation Australia chief executive officer Justin Mohamed told ABC News Breakfast. “So I think people can call out racism or, when it happens, they say, ‘Well, that’s exactly what it is, that’s racism.’”

The findings come as Australia’s biggest urban regions experience searing inflows of property investments from Asia, specifically from mainland China. Although resurgent capital flight controls have prevented Chinese investors from funneling more than USD50,000 out of the country, the Chinese still made up two-thirds of all applications for international investment in Australian real estate, according to the Foreign Investment Review Board’s latest annual report.

Demographia ranked Sydney last month as the world’s second least affordable housing market. However, the researchers put down the city’s affordability crisis to urban containment policies more than international investment flows.

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