In China, reports of racist incidents are accumulating in the Corona crisis. African are evicted from their homes or placed under house arrest
A video uploaded to Facebook and Twitter shows Anozie Maduabuchi Cyril a diplomat from Nigeria shouting at a Chinese official. The scene was filmed in the southern Chinese business metropolis Guangzhou, apparently in front of a building where people are housed in forced quarantine.
He had come to protect Nigerian citizens, calls the Consul General. “Why are you harassing our citizens?” he wants to know from the Chinese official.
dismissals and test coercion
The background to the verbal confrontation is the numerous openly xenophobic and racist incidents in Guangzhou, which are related to the struggle of the Chinese authorities against the corona virus.
Since several Nigerians in Guangzhou tested positive for the corona lung virus, foreigners in the city of millions have been complaining about massive discrimination. People with black skin in particular report that they have been arbitrarily placed under house arrest by the authorities and forced to undergo virus tests. Others were thrown out of their apartments by their landlords.
The people affected are mostly people who have lived and worked in Guangzhou for many years.
Government management plays down incidents
The incidents are now causing diplomatic ill-feeling. In protest, the African Union summoned the Chinese ambassador, Liu Yuxi, to attend. The US government warned black citizens against travelling to Guangzhou.
China’s state and party leaders are now trying to play down the incidents. Liu Baochun of the Guangzhou Foreign Office spoke of “individual misunderstandings and disproportionate actions” in the implementation of the health requirements. A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said there was no discrimination against “African brothers”. He rejected the warning from Washington that authorities in Guangzhou had taken increased measures against Africans as an attempt to damage Beijing’s relations with African states.
Traders and passers-by avoid foreigners
In fact, however, xenophobic and racist incidents have increased noticeably throughout China in recent weeks. The main reason for this is probably the Chinese leadership’s emphasis that most newly reported coronavirus cases are imported from abroad. Accordingly, non-Chinese looking people in China are viewed with suspicion in many places.
“Of course, I’m a bit scared when I see foreigners at the moment,” says a trader in a market hall in Shanghai. “Normally I don’t see it that way, but now I think it’s good that no foreigners are allowed in the country.” She avoids foreigners because of the virus. She’s willing to give up her earnings.
“As a Chinese I try to avoid foreigners now,” says another Shanghainese. “I keep a two-meter safety distance.”
The Chinese are the main importers of the virus.
In Shanghai and other Chinese cities, there are individual residential areas where foreigners are not allowed to enter. Many hotels in China also refuse to admit foreigners, even if they have not left the country for months.
The fact that 90 percent of the imported coronavirus cases are from Chinese people but it is hardly discussed in the state-controlled Chinese media.