Africa-China racism row: What has happened so far?

Africa – China racism row: What has happened so far?

Reports about the forceful eviction and quarantine of African nationals in the city of Guangzhou have made headlines for days. Africans working and studying in China have shared stories, videos and pictures as proof that they were forcibly evicted from their homes and now are being turned away by hotels.

Some black residents in a part of the city known as “Little Africa” are being forced to remain inside their apartments — even if they have not traveled anywhere that would warrant quarantine — and submit to coronavirus tests according to the Washington Post.

In April 2015, Paul R. Burgman Jr. said “all one has to do is scour the internet under the keywords, “Chinese prejudice against Africans in China” to discover a litany of blogs and articles on the experiences on young African migrants, students, and travelers, many of whom are proficient in Mandarin, as they recount their experiences in China.”

African migrants in China have faced discrimination because of race over the past years.

The one that’s brought widespread condemnation across the continent is the maltreatment of Africans in China amid the coronavirus outbreak.

African envoys complain to China over racial attacks

African envoys in China have written to the country’s foreign minister over what they call discrimination against Africans as the country battles with a resurgence of the coronavirus.

On Saturday, Ghana’s foreign minister of affairs Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said she had summoned the Chinese ambassador in Accra to condemn the “ill-treatment and racial discrimination” against Ghanaians and other Africans in China.

The Kenyan government is in discussions with Chinese authorities to ensure the safety of Kenyans living in China following xenophobic attacks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ministry of Health acting Director General, Dr. Patrick Amoth, said the government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had reached out to the Chinese government through its embassy in Kenya over the welfare of Kenyans living in various cities in China in a bid to ensure the Kenyans’ rights are not violated.

On Friday, Nigerian legislator Akinola Alabi tweeted a video of a meeting between the leader of Nigeria’s lower house of parliament, Femi Gbajabiamila, and Chinese Ambassador Zhou Pingjian. In it, Gbajabiamila demanded an explanation from the diplomat after showing Zhou a video of a Nigerian complaining about mistreatment in China.

The ambassador said in response to the questions from the house leader that he took the complaints “very seriously” and promised to convey them to the authorities back home.

AU Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, equally met with the Chinese Ambassador to the AU, Liu Yaki, April 11, to express concern about allegations that Africans are being mistreated in China during the coronavirus pandemic.

China Reacts

The Chinese government has in a statement rejected differential treatment towards African nationals residing in China.

On Sunday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian responded to the crisis, promising that provincial authorities would attach “great importance” to the concerns of some African countries and work to improve quarantine measures, including providing special accommodation for foreigners required to undergo medical observation.

“During our fight against the coronavirus, the Chinese government has been attaching great importance to the life and health of foreign nationals in China. All foreigners are treated equally. We reject differential treatment, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination. Since the outbreak, the authorities in Guangdong attach high importance to the treatment of foreign patients, including African nationals,” Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

However, in the statement, Zhao did not address specific accusations that authorities had enforced a policy of mandatory testing and a 14-day quarantine on all Africans, even when they had not left China in recent months; had not been in contact with a known Covid-19 patient; had just completed a 14-day isolation, or had certificates to show they were virus-free.


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