Africans living in the Southern Chinese city of Guangzhou say they have been victims of racism, forced into quarantine, banned from shops, and evicted from rentals, following five Nigerians testing positive for COVID-19, in a district of the city known as "Little Africa."
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports infections are centered around Kuangquan Street in Yuexiu district, "has raised the alarm in a city that has so far reported only 463 cases of COVID-19."
Guangzhou is a major trading partner with countries in Africa and has a sizeable African population.
Local authorities have forced Africans into a 14-day quarantine and submit to random virus testing. There are even reports that some of these folks have been banned from shops and, in extreme cases, evicted from their rental properties.
The move by authorities has triggered a backlash by a Nigerian community group in Guangzhou, led by Maximus Ogbonna, who said,
"People are not happy because they're being forced out of their apartments and into hotels where they have to pay [$30] a night for 28 days."
Ogbonna is in a 14-day quarantine at his home. Police installed a camera above his front door to detect if he breaches the health order.
African diplomats sent a letter to China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi saying, "The Group of African Ambassadors in Beijing immediately demands the cessation of forceful testing, quarantine and other inhuman treatments meted out to Africans."
Beijing rejected allegations of racism in Guangzhou, saying the accusations are nothing more than a Western ploy to undermine its image in this challenging time.
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that the Chinese government "treats all foreign personnel in China equally, opposes any differential practices targeting specific groups of people, and has zero tolerance for discriminatory words and deeds."
He said he stands with its "brothers" in Africa…
However, BBC Africa business editor Larry Madowo was upset with China's response. He tweeted: "Chinese government's statement on racist treatment of Africans in the country because of coronavirus is objectively terrible. It's a word salad that says nothing, offers no apologies and provides air cover for racist officials."
The Chinese government’s statement on racist treatment of Africans in the country because of coronavirus is objectively terrible. It’s a word salad that says nothing, offers no apologies and provides air cover for racist officials pic.twitter.com/noLBlAOObP— Larry Madowo (@LarryMadowo) April 12, 2020
On Saturday, the US consulate in Guangzhou advised African Americans to halt all travels to the city. It issued a security alert that read "police ordered bars and restaurants not to serve clients who appear to be of African origin," and police are conducting mandatory testing and self-quarantine for "anyone with 'African contacts.'"
AP News said local law enforcement in the city recently responded to rumors that "300,000 black people in Guangzhou were setting off a second epidemic," which caused alarm. Officials later said the rumor was fake news… Or was it? Because as we've explained, the second wave of infections could be imminent, and China is likely to blame foreigners this time around instead of bat soup.
Twitter account Black Livity China posted a video on Saturday that showed a sign at a Guangzhou McDonald's that read: "We have been informed that from now on black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant"; McDonald's told Forbes once it heard of the sign, it "immediately removed the communication and temporarily closed the restaurant" as it was "not representative of our inclusive values."
Again, for those who still doubt that Black people and particularly #AfricansinChina are being targeted we feel it is our duty to share this. A sign at a @McDonalds restaurant seems to make this perfectly clear pic.twitter.com/FaveKrdQHi— Black Livity China (@BlackLivityCN) April 11, 2020
China's new virus cases hit a six-week high over the weekend, sparked mainly from travelers arriving from overseas, well that's at least what Beijing is telling the world. It seems the Communist government is gearing up for the second infection wave and will likely blame foreigners, maybe specifically Africans in Guangzhou.