Chinese embassy says Africans being treated equally in homeland

THE Chinese embassy here has strongly denied news reports of widespread discrimination against Africans in China, calling it misinformation aimed at creating a wedge between the republic and African countries.

Mainstream and social media reports have surfaced of forceful evictions, arbitrary quarantines, and mass coronavirus testing, as China, which has largely contained its outbreak of novel coronavirus infections, tries to keep out imported cases.

“We have noted there were unwarranted allegations circulating in social media in an attempt to sow discord and stoke trouble. This is neither moral nor responsible. Attempts to use the pandemic to drive a wedge between China and Africa are bound to fail,” the Chinese embassy in Kingston told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

According to international news agency Agence France-Press, China is now being accused of xenophobia with reports that a recent cluster of cases has been linked to the Nigerian community in southern China’s largest city, Guangzhou, sparking the allegations of discrimination by locals and virus-prevention officials.

“Local authorities in the industrial centre of 15 million said at least eight people diagnosed with the illness had spent time in the city’s Yuexiu district, known as ‘Little Africa’. Five were Nigerian nationals who faced widespread anger after reports surfaced that they had broken a mandatory quarantine and been to eight restaurants and other public places, instead of staying home,” AFP reported on Monday.

As a result, nearly 2,000 people with whom they came into contact had to be tested for COVID-19 or undergo quarantine, Chinese State media said. Guangzhou confirmed 114 imported novel coronavirus cases as of last Thursday — 16 of which were Africans. The others were returning Chinese nationals, AFP reported.

“At present, the COVID-19 pandemic is raging across the world and China is facing huge pressure to prevent imported cases. Among the foreign-imported cases in Guangzhou, Nigerians and people from some other African countries account for a large proportion; there have also been local transmissions through those imported cases. This will inevitably cause the concern of China’s grass-roots prevention and control personnel and ordinary people,” the embassy stated.

At the same time, it insisted that the basic regulation for prevention and control is equal for everyone.

“Its only purpose is to protect the safety of the city. In the past, China formulated different prevention and control standards for people from different countries — mainly different quarantine and medical observation regulations.

“With the tightening global pandemic situation, the regulation has become almost equal for all people. In the past, some of those entering China from African countries were not included in the scope of centralised quarantine, but now management toward them has tightened,” the Chinese embassy said.

The Chinese officials in Kingston insisted that all foreigners, including Africans, must respect and cooperate with the strengthened prevention and control measures in Guangzhou.

“There is no bargaining. The prevention and control measures of local residents are very strict across China. Some foreigners feel that they are discriminated, but they are, in fact, being treated the same way as Chinese people. They need to adapt to the situation and strictly abide by the regulations instead of complaining and disobeying,” the embassy told the Observer.

In his remarks on Monday regarding anti-epidemic measures concerning African citizens, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian pointed to the friendship between China and the African continent.

“After the Ebola epidemics broke out in three West African countries in 2014, the Chinese Government provided assistance at the earliest time possible and fought side by side with the African countries and people. Now, faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Africa are again tiding over difficulties hand in hand. We will not forget the support from Africa during our most difficult times,” he said.

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