Africans in southern China’s largest city is facing xenophobic attacks by the Chinese. The country has just barely recovered from the COVID19 pandemic and the African communities have been singled out as the cause of new confirmed cases that have resurfaced in China..
Africans have become targets of suspicion and subjected to forced evictions, arbitrary quarantines, and mass coronavirus testing as the country steps up security measures against a resurgence of the virus.
Ironically China has been on the media with a mission to help Africa step up its fight against COVID19 but the African community in Guangzhou paint a gory picture of sorrow, tears, and xenophobia.
Local authorities in the industrial centre of 15 million said at least eight people diagnosed with the illness had spent time in the city’s Yuexiu district, known as “Little Africa”.
Five were Nigerian nationals who faced widespread anger after reports surfaced that they had broken a mandatory quarantine and been to eight restaurants and other public places instead of staying home.
As a result, nearly 2,000 people they came into contact with had to be tested for COVID-19 or undergo quarantine, state media said.
Guangzhou had confirmed 114 imported coronavirus cases as of Thursday, 16 of which were Africans. The rest were returning Chinese nationals.
Africans tell of their woes during the Crackdown
“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,” said Tony Mathias, an exchange student from Uganda who was forced from his apartment on Monday.
We’re like beggars on the street,” the 24-year-old said.
Mathias added that police had given him no information about testing or quarantine but instead told him “to go to another city”.
Other Africans said the community had been subject to mass COVID-19 testing even though many had not left China recently, and placed under arbitrary quarantine at home or in hotels.
“All the people I’ve seen tested are Africans. Chinese are walking around freely but if you’re black you can’t go out,” Thiam, an exchange student from Guinea
What are the authorities doing about it?
The complaints in Guangzhou contrast with a welcome reception to Chinese efforts in battling the coronavirus across the African continent, where Beijing this week donated medical supplies to 18 countries.
The Consul-General of Nigeria in the Guangzhou province of China, Mr Anozie Maduabuchi Cyril has allegedly been assaulted after he tackled Chinese authorities for targetting Nigerians in the wake of the Coronairus pandemic.
“When China engages Africa it’s the central government that does that, but when it comes to immigration enforcement that happens at the local level,” said Eric Olander, managing editor of the China Africa Project.
“That explains why there’s an inconsistency in the more upbeat messaging we hear about Chinese diplomacy on the continent and the increasingly difficult realities that African traders, students, and other expatriates face in their day-to-day lives in China.”
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has expressed his displeasure and demanded an end to the inhumane treatment of some Nigerians living in China.
He said this when the leadership of the House met with the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian on Friday. Gbajabiamila asked the Chinese envoy to look into viral media reports and videos from Beijing showing Nigerians being forced out of their houses and hotels.