Be vigilant of the virus of evil rumours to sabotage China-Africa friendship

Workers labour in a clean room producing masks at a medical products company's production line in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. Picture: Ng Han Guan/AP

Workers labour in a clean room producing masks at a medical products company's production line in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. Picture: Ng Han Guan/AP

Published Apr 24, 2020


Recently, some people with hidden agenda are playing up and exploiting the “situation of Africans in Guangzhou” to slander China as “discriminating Africans”, and even label China as “engaging in racism”, so as to discredit China-Africa cooperation. 

We have also noticed that some people even use local social media by circulating self-made video clips of “ no title, no time, no source, no verification”, to incite anti-China sentiments and damage China-South Africa and China-Africa friendship. 

We should remain highly vigilant of this dangerous development.

As a matter of fact, there is no such a thing as the so-called “discrimination against Africans in Guangdong Province”. The relevant reports were hyping up and exaggerating what actually happened. The video clips, some of which are many years old, and more like sensational gimmicks to attract public attention. 

The Chinese government’s position is firm, clear-cut and consistent, i.e. all foreign nationals in China are treated as equals. China rejects any differential treatment to them, and has zero tolerance for discrimination in any form. All the African friends are received in an unbiased, impartial, cordial and friendly manner in China.

Now as the Covid-19 is spreading rapidly around the world, China is under increasing pressure to prevent imported cases. Guangdong is a province at the frontier of China’s reform and opening-up, and its capital city Guangzhou is an international metropolis frequently visited and resided by a large number of foreign nationals.

The risk of imported cases is particularly high for Guangdong. As of April 13, there have been 119 imported confirmed cases including 93 cases of Chinese citizens and 26 cases of foreign nationals, 19 of which are Africans. Fifteen confirmed cases are related to imported cases, 14 of which are related to imported cases from Africa.

It is learned that 111 of the Africans in Guangzhou were tested positive in nucleic acid test, including asymptomatic infections. Numbers don’t lie. Obviously, the African community in Guangzhou, like some Chinese citizens, is a high-risk group in terms of epidemic prevention and control, and their health and safety are facing greater challenges.

In order to protect the health and safety of all Chinese and foreign nationals, recently Guangzhou has upgraded its prevention and control measures, including prioritized and comprehensive testing of all high-risk groups, 14-day compulsory quarantine of all inbound passengers and requiring 15,000 people to stay at home or go to designated places for collective quarantine. 

Nearly 10,000 of the quarantined are Chinese citizens, and more than 4,600 are foreigners, including African nationals, as well as foreign nationals from another 13 countries such as the US, Australia and Russia. There is no such thing as the so-called “discrimination against Africans”. 

The purpose of Guangzhou’s prevention and control measures is to protect the health and safety of relevant personnel, as well as that of their family and the public. It is completely reasonable, rational and lawful to do so. Indeed, there occurred some occasional individual cases involving Africans due to cultural differences, misunderstanding and miscommunication during the early stage of implementation of the prevention and control measures. 

For example, some foreign nationals who were confirmed infected did not fully comply with the relevant anti-epidemic regulations, causing panic among the surrounding Chinese residents. Some foreign nationals of high risk group refuse to wear protective masks when they go to public places like café, restaurant and supermarkets. In one extreme case, one infected African patient even attacked the Chinese health workers. Some complained about the difficulties in their life.

The Chinese government attaches great importance to and has properly handled relevant cases. 

The measures that have been taken include providing health management services without differentiation, designating hotels for the accommodation of foreigners required to undergo medical observation at reduced price or free of charge for those in financial difficulties, setting up effective communication mechanism with foreign consulates-general in Guangzhou, making clear statement of opposing any discriminatory acts. 

Now all the relevant issues have been properly dealt with, and no more complaints are raised by foreign nationals.

We fully understand African countries’ concern on the protection of health, safety and other basic interests and rights of their nationals in China. 

In order to curb the spread of rumor in a timely manner, maintain China-Africa friendship and mutual trust and help the African public know the truth, the Chinese side has conducted all-round communication with the African side. In his phone conversation with Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi on April 13, AU Commission Chairperson Faki said Africa believes China will not take any discriminatory policy towards African people. 

Africa and China are both friends and comrades-in-arms. Nothing can change or damage their friendly ties. Some forces are trying to exploit the situation to drive a wedge between Africa and China. We will absolutely not let them succeed.

Recently, Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama clarified on some misinterpretation of the situation, saying that recently a group of Nigerian citizens were confirmed to have COVID-19 after arriving in Guangzhou from Nigeria. One of them is an owner of a restaurant that was popular with many Africans. Therefore, local governments closed related venues and required the people involved to undergo quarantine to prevent the virus from spreading.

According to local anti-epidemic regulations, people under mandatory quarantine are not allowed to return to their homes or hotels. However, it was misinterpreted by some of the Nigerians and Africans that they were “singled out” and “targeted”. 

Onyeama said that the Nigerians undergoing quarantine have been properly arranged and called on Nigerian people to take an objective and rational view on this issue.

In an interview on April 18, several African Consul Generals expressed understanding of Guangdong’s anti-epidemic efforts and fully recognized China’s active response to the African countries’ concerns. African consul generals in Guangzhou have established various communication mechanisms with local

government and required their nationals in China to strictly observe local anti-epidemic regulations to win this battle together.

Facing the common threat of virus, we need more than ever before mutual understanding and support. Both the Chinese and foreign nationals have the responsibility and obligation to strictly abide by the relevant regulations, and jointly safeguard the hard-won anti-epidemic outcomes. This is not only responsible to the Chinese people, but also to all foreigners in China, including the African community. 

We sincerely hope that the African governments and missions in China can step up the anti-epidemic education for their nationals in China, and help them to put the situation in perspective and cooperate with local authorities to comply with relevant anti-epidemic regulations.

As an old saying goes, when you are in Rome, do what the Romans do. That is why the Chinese Embassy and Consulates-Generals in South Africa always require the Chinese nationals to strictly obey local rules and regulations particularly South Africa’s anti-epidemic measures. It’s necessary for all the people to

unite and fight together. We have also noted that some Chinese individuals in South Africa were punished for violating local anti-epidemic rules in their businesses. 

We support the South African government handling the cases in accordance with law and also sincerely hope that the South African government could fully

guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese communities and businesses and protect their health, safety and property.

The unbreakable China-Africa friendship has been deeply rooted in the hearts of the people in China and Africa. China and Africa are good friends, good partners and good brothers sharing weal and woe. China and Africa are one big family, and it is normal for family members to have differences among themselves, just as the teeth may fight with the tongue. 

The point is, we can always find a solution to those differences in family way through candid and friendly consultations in the spirit of mutual respect and equality. We believe that China-Africa relations are mature and strong enough to withstand any test.

Now the Covid-19 is spreading rapidly in the African continent, China sympathizes with African brothers and friends. Despite the daunting anti-epidemic tasks at home, China has provided assistance and support to all African countries, including South Africa, and even the countries that have not established diplomatic ties with China. The Chinese government is now preparing a third and larger batch of medical supplies to assist South Africa.

Chinese enterprises and communities in South African have also provided generous donations to support South Africa’s fight against the virus.

In the face of the severe test of the Covid-19, China and African countries need more than ever to strengthen solidarity, need more than ever to enhance mutual understanding and sincerity, and need more than ever to uphold the general interests of China-Africa friendly cooperation.

China will continue to step up its support to Africa to the best of its capability until the final victory is achieved.

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