China counters accusations of racism against African residents

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China is denying racial discrimination after African nations jointly condemned measures taken against Africans in China.

Chinese authorities may have been abusing immigrants in the southern city of Guangzhou, according to recorded videos taken amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Footage that went viral in Africa show groups of black men pulling suitcases and being pushed out into the streets by Chinese police officers, Quartz reported.

“I don’t know where I will sleep tonight,” a man from Ghana says.

Others are heard saying, “They are chasing us away. We are just walking on the road. They [are not]giving us houses, they [are not]giving us hotels…They don’t want us to stay at one place.”

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Landlords may be evicting African tenants. Last week, five Nigerian nationals reportedly tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Guangzhou. Chinese state media has since claimed the Nigerians, all men, violated quarantine guidelines and visited a local restaurant, infecting the owner and his child.

The Nigerian government has responded promptly. The South China Morning Post reported Sunday Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the House of Representatives, summoned Chinese Ambassador Zhou Pingjian to watch some of the footage.

The Chinese Embassy later said Zhou “watched the video, and pointed out that the behavior of Chinese quarantine workers was appropriate and there was nothing improper,” according to the Post.

China’s foreign ministry has denied the actions captured on video expose racial discrimination even as other countries, including Ghana, Kenya and Uganda summoned Chinese ambassadors, and the African Union Commission expressed its displeasure with the incidents.

Targeted people include African residents of Guangzhou who never left China during the coronavirus pandemic. The Egyptian Embassy in China has said it has received complaints regarding “extraordinary measures,” such as attacks, beatings and bullying of Africans, including Egyptians, in Guangdong Province, The Middle East Monitor reported Monday.

Africans are being barred from entering hotels, markets and hospitals, according to Ibrahim Negm, an Egyptian resident of China.

There are approximately 10,000 Africans residing in Guangzhou, according to a 2017 estimate from China’s Global Times.

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