China shuns claims of discrimination against Africans living in Guangzhou

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo Time of article published Apr 14, 2020

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Durban - The Chinese government has rejected claims that Africans living in the coastal city of Guangzhou were being discriminated against and stigmatised as the authorities seek to prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus.

The response comes after the South African government raised allegations that Africans were forcefully undergoing 14 days of quarantine even though they had not travelled outside their jurisdictions, not come into contact with infected persons, nor had close contact or showed Covid-19 symptoms. Videos had been circulating on social media showing Africans thrown out of their flats with their possessions and sleeping on the streets.

The matter has received the attention of the African Union (AU) and the African Group of Ambassadors in Beijing, who said reports of ill-treatment were of concern. However, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the Chinese government attached 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 Guangzhou attached high importance to the treatment of foreign patients, including African nationals,” he said.

Zhao said Guangzhou authorities attach great importance to some African countries’ concerns and were promptly improving their working method. He said the ministry would stay in close contact with the Guangzhou authorities to respond to the African countries’ “reasonable concerns and legitimate appeals”.

International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said they welcomed the action taken by AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, to summon the Chinese Ambassador in Addis Ababa for an explanation and express the AU’s deep concern about this matter.

“We also welcome the assurance by the Chinese authorities that it is not the policy of China to discriminate against African nationals. South Africa urges the relevant Chinese authorities to investigate these reports and take appropriate remedial measures.”

The African Group of Ambassadors in Beijing wrote to the Chinese authorities about the discrimination that Africans were subjected to in Guangzhou.

“We cannot recall Chinese authorities reporting our nationals having violated its anti-pandemic laws. Therefore, singling out Africans for compulsory testing and quarantine has no scientific or logical basis and amounts to racism,” it said, adding it would immediately demand the cessation of forceful testing, quarantine and inhuman treatments meted out to Africans.

The Mercury

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