Racism against Africans has been reported in the Guangzhou city of China amid the Coronavirus Pandemic. The allegations surfaced after a recent spark in the number of Wuhan Coronavirus cases in the country which were allegedly imported by Nigerians. Following the incident, Africans have alleged that they have become targets of suspicion and subjected to arbitrary quarantines. China claims that it had largely curbed the spread of the virus but a cluster of cases linked to the Nigerian community in southern China’s largest city sparked the alleged discrimination by locals and virus prevention officials.
Guangzhou had confirmed 114 imported coronavirus cases as of Thursday, 16 of which were Africans. This has led to Africans becoming targets of racism in China. Several Africans also claimed that they have been forcibly evicted from their homes and turned away by hotels. “I’ve been sleeping under the bridge for four days with no food to eat… I cannot buy food anywhere, no shops or restaurants will serve me,” said Tony Mathias, an exchange student from Uganda. “We’re like beggars on the street,” the 24-year-old said. Mathias also said that the Police had not given him any information on testing or quarantine but told him to “go to another city”.
A Nigerian businessman said that he was evicted from his apartment earlier in the week. “Everywhere the police see us, they will come and pursue us and tell us to go home. But where can we go?” he said. Many Africans have also been allegedly put under arbitrary quarantines. “Even if we have a negative test result, police don’t let us stay (in our accommodation) and they don’t give a reason why,” said Denny, a Nigerian trader, who was evicted from his flat on Tuesday. Another individual, a citizen of Canada, said, “There’s just this crazy fear that anybody who’s African might have been in contact with somebody who was sick.”
The Communist government of China, however, insists that it treats everyone equally although its foreign ministry acknowledged some “misunderstanding” with the African community living in the country. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, “Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, China and African countries have always supported each other and have always fought against the virus jointly.” He added, “I would like to emphasize that the Chinese government treats all foreigners in China equally, opposes any differentiated practices targeted at specific groups of people, and has zero tolerance for discriminatory words and actions.”
“When China engages Africa it’s the central government that does that, but when it comes to immigration enforcement that happens at the local level,” said Eric Olander, managing editor of the China Africa Project. “That explains why there’s an inconsistency in the more upbeat messaging we hear about Chinese diplomacy on the continent and the increasingly difficult realities that African traders, students and other expatriates face in their day-to-day lives in China.”
Meanwhile, the recent spate against Africans in Guangzhou has led to a new war of words between the United States and China. The US Embassy in China on Saturday issued a security alert for African Americans living and working in Guangzhou. The US Embassy said that “police ordered bars and restaurants not to serve clients who appear to be of African origin” and local officials have launched mandatory testing and self-quarantine for “anyone with ‘African contacts.’” It added, “African-Americans have also reported that some businesses and hotels refuse to do business with them.”
Meanwhile, African countries have also protested against the mistreatment of their citizens in China with Nigeria leading the way. “My Office invited the Chinese Ambassador to the AU, Mr Liu Yuxi, to express our extreme concern at allegations of maltreatment of Africans in Guangzhou plus called for immediate remedial measures in line with our excellent relations. The African group in Beijing is also engaging with the govt,” African Union Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said.
Nigerian govt also summoned the Chine ambassador to Nigeria and confronted him with videos showing racist attack on Nigerians in China.
Nigeria’s consul general officials also publicly confronted Chinese officials over the mistreatment of Nigerians by Chinese authorities.
While China engages in racist conduct against Africans within their territory, they have simultaneously launched a targeted campaign accusing those who use the term ‘Wuhan Coronavirus’ or ‘Chinese Virus’ for COVID-19 of racism. While the Communist government claims that it treats all its citizens equally, its treatment of Uyghur Muslims demonstrates that it is definitely not the case. Its conduct ever since the pandemic began has also been extremely questionable with the USA accusing the Chinese government of not informing the world of the seriousness of the threat posed by the virus. The USA has also called for an analysis of the ‘origins’ of the Wuhan Coronavirus and accused the WHO of unfairly siding with China on the matter.