04/14/2020, 13.18
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Coronavirus: 20 African countries accuse Beijing of racism

A campaign of xenophobia developed in Guangdong with African residents forced to submit to mandatory testing and quarantine. A McDonald’s restaurant in Guangzhou banned "black people" from entering. Some have been evicted from their homes, forced to live in the streets. Embarrassed, Chinese authorities have run for cover as Africa plays a central role in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Guangzhou (AsiaNews) – Diplomats from 20 African countries have complained about the inhumane treatment inflicted upon their citizens in China, victims of xenophobia within the campaign against the coronavirus outbreak.

The issue of racial discrimination against Africans by local authorities and residents began in the city of Guangzhou (Guangdong) after five Nigerians tested positive to the COVID-19 virus.

In the city, a McDonald’s restaurant displayed a notice stating “black people are not allowed to enter”. After a video was posted online, the ban was lifted.

A student from Kenya living in the city told Caixin that some Africans were barred from entering supermarkets; others were evicted from their homes even though they paid their rent.

AsiaNews has learnt that some quarantined Africans have not received help and assistance from the authorities, and were forced to go out to get food.

African diplomats say that several of their citizens were forced to sleep outdoors, as hotels also refused to host them. According to the US consulate in Guangzhou, some African-Americans have reportedly received the same treatment.

Overall, 12 Africans have tested positive in Guangzhou, out of some 500 cases. African ambassadors have called for an end on compulsory testing and quarantine for their citizens.

According to city authorities, some 4,500 Africans live in Guangzhou. As the fear of contagion by foreigners developed, they were placed under greater monitoring even though most imported cases involved Chinese citizens.

The diplomatic row has embarrassed Chinese leaders. Africa plays a central part in China’s foreign policy, and is a key component of its Belt and Road Initiative, a project launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping to turn China into into the world’s main trader.

Running for cover, Beijing announced that it would review health restrictions imposed on Africans.

China’s Foreign Ministry yesterday reassured the 20 African diplomats, and the African Union, that Guangzhou provincial authorities are gradually lifting restrictions.

Only the individuals who contracted the virus, those who came into contact with them, and suspected cases will be closely monitored.

The government stressed that the new measures, based on the "principle of non-discrimination,” will be adopted in coordination with the consulates of the countries concerned in Guangzhou.

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