In a story appearing in several news outlets, the US and various African countries have criticized what they are referring to as the unfair and discriminatory treatment of their citizens in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
Guanzhou has, for some time, had the largest African community of any Chinese city and black residents there say local hostility is nothing unusual.
However, old tensions have flared anew amidst concerns over the coronavirus.
CNN, the New York Times, BBC and Aljazeera, among many other news outlets, have reported on this particular story.
The Africans and African Americans– which include many businessmen, students, and others from places like the United States, Nigeria, Kenya, and Zimbabwe – say they are also being subject to arbitrary coronavirus testing and are still shunned when they test negative.
Individuals have reported being publicly harassed, subject to arrest, eviction and being denied service at hotels and restaurants.
This treatment extends to black people who have spent years in China and who have never left while locals were not being subjected to the same experience, reports indicate.
These accounts contradict the official government explanation that foreign travelers require more testing and isolation to prevent “imported” cases of the coronavirus.
The individual stories are quite alarming:
“I’ve been sleeping under the bridge for four days with no food to eat … I cannot buy food anywhere, no shops or restaurants will serve me,” Tony Mathias, an Ugandan student, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) in an article published Saturday. “We’re like beggars on the street.”
According to a CNN report, widespread accounts hit social media this past week of black tenants being evicted by their landlords over what they feel is unfair treatment and discrimination.
CNN claims to have interviewed over a dozen black people living in Guangzhou who claim that they were tested for coronavirus and home- quarantined despite not having any contact with anyone with the virus.
An Aljazeera article indicated that with the Wuhan outbreak seemingly under control, official efforts have turned their attention to preventing what authorities have been referring to, as imported cases that may be behind a supposed second wave of the virus.
The article went on to indicate that there were 114 new corona cases since last Thursday and 16 of those were Africans.
African Ambassadors in China who have written to the country’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, highlighted several of the reports from Africans in Ghuangzou including ejections from hotels in the middle of the night, the seizure of passports, threats of visa revocation and arrest or deportation.
The letter addressed the concern that the false impression was being spread that Africans were responsible for the spread of the virus.
The United States, for its part, put out a security alert via the US Embassy to American citizens entitled, “Discrimination against African-Americans in Guangzhou.”
The alert, put out on Saturday, said that “police ordered bars and restaurants not to serve clients who appear to be of African origin,” and local officials have launched mandatory testing and self-quarantine for “anyone with ‘African contacts.’”
Chinese officials have denied there has been any discriminatory practice against Africans or African Americans in China.
Citing, at one point, their efforts to quell false rumours that 300,000 Black people in Ghuangzhou were causing a new wave of infections.
Foreign affairs official, Liu Baochun, told a news conference on Sunday that anti-virus measures were being taken for anyone who entered the country from across the border regardless of race, nationality or gender.
This echoed China’s foreign ministry spokesman’s, Zhao Lijian, statement on Thursday: