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China does not stop racism against Africans over Covid-19 | News from the world

Africans continue to be banned from hotels, shops and restaurants in Guangzhou, although Chinese officials have assured governments across Africa that the discrimination resulting from efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic will end.

Racist discrimination in Guangzhou earlier this month sparked outrage in Africa, prompting rare official protests in China from several countries.

Africans in the city who were recently contacted by the Guardian said they still face hostility and racism, driven by the fear that they may be carriers of Covid-19.

Frank Nnabugwu, a Nigerian businessman who has lived in Guangzhou for a year, said that he was not allowed to return to his rented accommodation last week after being released from two weeks of quarantine. Security guards told us: No strangers are allowed. I was upset, very upset. I slept on the street, said the 30-year-old woman.

The police finally found a hotel ready to rent a room in Nnabugwu.

We use the receptionist to order food, said Nnabugwu. If they [food delivery companies] know that it is a stranger who orders food, they will not come. You can’t buy anything in a store; if you come in, they will cover their faces and chase you away.

Can you get coronavirus twice? video explaining

Kidus Mulugeta, an Ethiopian who moved to China four years ago to study mechanical engineering, said the atmosphere in Guangzhou has changed rapidly.

It was so fast, he said. I went into quarantine We were treated well. Then we went out. Everything was different, uncomfortable. As the Chinese have changed their minds.

Mulugeta, who had a job offer in a Chinese company when he graduated, said that many Africans found it impossible to rent accommodation and were not allowed to enter supermarkets.

They say there are no foreigners, but if it is a Russian or a European, they allow white people to enter, he said.

A Ghanaian computer student said he was in a hotel when police took him to another hotel to place it in mandatory quarantine and that it was tested more than five times.

The 25-year-old, who requested anonymity, said he had been refused entry to 15 hotels and was sleeping on the street. I was refused entry to public places, refused in restaurants. All of the tests they did were negative.

Anger in Africa increased earlier this month when images of African residents in Guangzhou who were denied entry began to circulate on social media. Other images showed expelled Africans sleeping on the street.

China has maintained strict screening protocols, concerned about any resurgence of infections by virus carriers with no symptoms or by infected people arriving from abroad.

The authorities have restricted international flights and prevented almost all foreigners from entering the country, as well as mandatory centralized quarantines for those returning from abroad. Experts say such distrust has led to new levels of xenophobia and that Africans have paid the price.

Guangzhou tightened measures after reporting more than 100 imported cases of Covid-19, including 25 involving foreign nationals, some from Africa, Chinese state media reported. The new measures included retrospective screening for previous arrivals.

African leaders are generally reluctant to criticize China, which has lent massive amounts of money to governments and provided medical assistance in recent weeks, but reports have sparked rare official protests in Beijing.

Many African leaders have been shocked by the vehemence of the online response in Africa to the incidents, says Cobus Van Staden, specialist in Sino-African relations at the South African Institute of International Affairs. They realized that there was an internal pressure They generally tend to minimize [problems] but I think they realized it would be politically impossible this time, he said.

A number of African states called Chinese ambassadors, and the African Union, which represents more than 50 states, said the discrimination had caused grief, pain and humiliation to all Africans.

Ghanas’ Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah told the Guardian that his government had summoned the Chinese ambassador for a very harsh conversation.

Chinese authorities reacted quickly to respond to the first accusations of discrimination. The Chinese Embassy in Nairobi, for example, told the Kenyan foreign ministry that the authorities in Guangzhou had been instructed to take immediate action to safeguard the legitimate rights of the Africans concerned.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian acknowledged at the time that there could be misunderstandings in implementing measures to prevent imports of the virus from abroad. China has treated all foreigners equally, said Zhao.

However, Beijing also tried to suggest that reports that Africans targeted in Guangzhou are a plot to smear the country. An editorial in the Global Times, a state-run newspaper, said that western media, American politicians and Hong Kong separatists were among those who reported such incidents.

Roberto Castillo, assistant professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong who studied the African presence in China, said: Not surprisingly, China’s response has been to deviate and turn the tale like another situation distorted by Western media and fake news, and point out that China does not discriminate against any foreigner.

In recent years, China has made huge strides in its political, commercial and cultural presence in Africa and launched a diplomatic offensive at the start of the pandemic. The racism dispute threatens some of these gains.

The images of blacks sleeping under bridges, of families with children evicted from their legally rented places of residence, as well as the refusal of entry and service to blacks, were considered by many to be Chinese racism and a Chinese betrayal of African solidarity in these difficult situations. times, said Castillo.

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