Xenophobia & Covid-19: in China, Africans in Guangzhou are arrested, evicted and discriminated
“We are discriminated against because they think we are asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus. Some people hate us for no reason. Honestly, we have to go home”. Says a Kenyan woman
Everyone knows that Covid-19 started in Wuham, China and has spread to the rest of the world. But its pandemic has led to an increase in xenophobia and racism towards African people living in Cantan (Guangzhou), a city in southern China.
Guangzhou is the city where there is a strong African community. It is there that we find African traders who buy and sell products to the continent.
Many African expatriates living in China tell of their ordeal and their fears because they are discriminated against by the local population.
But how did it all start?
There are rumors that five Nigerians who tested positive for Covid-19 have escaped their quarantine in Canton (south). Since then, xenophobic acts have broken out.
Many Africans from Canton in southern Guangdong province have exposed their plight on social media and AFP. They have been victims of mistreatment, arbitrary evictions and prohibited from entering shops. These poor poor people are left to fend for themselves living on the streets.
The difficult daily life of Africans in China
We know that China is one of the most secure countries in the world. It has implemented very strict decontamination measures to avoid the coronavirus pandemic. The inhabitants are subjected to daily temperature measurements, prolonged confinement and there is video surveillance everywhere. One wonders with all this security, how 5 Nigerians infected by the Covid-19 were able to escape while the country is under heavy surveillance. But despite these rumors, Africans have been victims of xenophobia and racism. And the situation is very alarming and disturbing.
“They accuse us of having the virus,” said Victor Tobenna, a Nigerian student in Guangzhou. “
Many testimonies explain that Africans were arrested and forcibly evicted from their apartments.
Even if they are not sick, they are forced to quarantine for 14 days. These Africans are forced to spend quarantine in hotels and have to pay for food and hotel expenses themselves. Knowing that it has been 3 months since there has been no work in China. Everything is locked. They don’t know where to get the money.
“They came to my house. They told me to wait 24 hours for the results, but even after 24 hours, nobody contacted me” says Lunde Okulunge Isidore (a Congolese businessman)
According to Thiam, a Guinean student, who told AFP that he had tested negative. The police demanded that he be quarantined, even though he has not left Canton since the outbreak began in January. “All the people I saw being tested are Africans. Chinese people can move freely. But when you’re black, you can’t go out ”
Landlords are taking advantage of this situation to drive out black people for no good reason, because they have been told that Africans are no longer welcome in their country.
“We paid the rent and right after we got it back, they kick us out of the houses. Since last night, we sleep on the street.”adds Victor Tobenna.
The situation has become inhuman. They can’t even do their shopping anymore. Out of fear, many remain locked up at home and do not dare to go out.
The unlucky ones end up sleeping on the streets, because the hotels refused to welcome them.
Other Africans have their passports removed by the Chinese authorities. It’s a real scandal.
Some police officers allow you to keep the passport, but others take it, “said a witness quoted by the Daily Nation.
Free movement is prohibited for Africans. They are victims of serious discrimination.
- 1 / they are not allowed to enter hotels.
- 2 / they are forbidden to go to restaurants.
- 3 / They cannot enter the shops and pay what they want
- 4 / And when you walk in the street, some denounce Africans to the authorities.
They have targeted black Africans because they think they will not succeed.
The latest Canton report shows 114 “imported” cases. Among them are 16 Africans, the rest being Chinese nationals. Despite the statistics, the African community is the victim of discrimination.
— Arslan Hidayat (@arslan_hidayat) April 16, 2020
— Daily Nation (@dailynation) April 11, 2020
The Nigerian consul was the first to react.
The tension shows between China and Nigeria. The Nigerian consul shocked and saddened by the fate of the Africans. He moved to recover the passports confiscated by the Chinese authorities.
US denounces Chinese racism
LThe United States denounces the “xenophobia of the Chinese authorities towards the Africans” and castigate Beijing for its lack of transparency. “The abuse and ill-treatment against Africans living and working in China sadly reminds of how hollow the partnership between the People’s Republic of China and Africa is,” a spokesman for the department told AFP. of American State.
The American consulate in Guangzhou advises African-Americans or those who think that the Chinese authorities may suspect them of having contacts with nationals of African countries to avoid the metropolitan area of Guangzhou until further notice, “said the alert.
The African Union intervenes.
Faced with the scandal, the President of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, summoned the Chinese ambassador to do something against the xenophobia suffered by Africans in China. He expressed his “extreme concern” on April 11 on Twitter, calling for “immediate corrective measures, in line with the excellent relations between Africa and China.”
My Office invited the Chinese Amb to the AU,Mr Liu Yuxi, to express our extreme concern at allegations of maltreatment of Africans in #Guangzhou+called for immediate remedial measures in line with our excellent relations.The African Grp in #Beijing is also engaging with the govt pic.twitter.com/NEBStdOCeK
— Moussa Faki Mahamat (@AUC_MoussaFaki) April 11, 2020
Under strong diplomatic pressure, China had rejected all “racism” and promised to “improve” its treatment of Africans in the city of Canton. “Sino-African friendship is deeply rooted in China and unbreakable. Our African friends will be treated fairly, just and friendly in China,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry.
On April 13, twenty African ambassadors were also received in Beijing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chen Xiaodong. He notably promised to “lift the sanitary measures concerning Africans, with the exception of confirmed patients [suffering from Covid-19]”.