A new international relations row has emerged between China and several African countries after numerous reports of racism against Africans and people of color in certain Chinese cities have gone viral over social media.
According to Radio Free Asia, African immigrants had been turned away from restaurants and even evicted from their homes. Though some of the mistreatment has come from private individuals, there have been reports that government officials and police had ordered bars and restaurants not to serve clients who appeared to be of African origin.
One particular viral tweet featured a sign on a McDonald’s that stated it would not serve people of color. It had been retweeted more than 5,000 times and resulted in a formal apology from McDonald’s China, according to Inkstone News.
The reports of mistreatment come following rumors of a new outbreak of COVID-19 in areas populated with African immigrants, most specifically in the city of Guangzhou, which houses a neighborhood known as “Little Africa.”
Though COVID-19 originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the Middle Kingdom had largely contained the outbreak by March. New cases of the disease appear to come mainly from international countries, lending suspicion to anyone with potentially foreign ties — like immigrants.
As a result of the viral tweets and pictures, many African governments have voiced their displeasure, and the foreign ministers of Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria had all summoned their Chinese ambassadors to discuss the alleged instances of racism.
Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, was one of the first African officials to make a statement on the events.
“I have been briefed on the inhumane treatment being meted out to Ghanaians and other African nationals in the People’s Republic China with regards to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Botchwey stated.
“I regret and highly condemn this act of ill-treatment and racial discrimination,” she added.
In Kenya, the front of page of popular newspaper Saturday Nation ran the aggressive headline “Kenyans in China: Rescue us From Hell” and detailed the “long nights in the cold, racial discrimination in shopping malls and retail outlets and attacks on public transport in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak” that Kenyans had experienced.
It is not just African immigrants that have been affected by prejudice. According to the United States Consulate General in Guangzhou, many African-Americans have also voiced experiences of mistreatment, such as being denied service at several businesses and hotels.
Meanwhile, China has released a statement on the matter, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian claiming that the “Guangdong (provincial) authorities attach great importance to some African countries’ concerns.”
This is not the first public relations issue that China has faced in recent weeks. The country has also been accused of covering up the true number of coronavirus deaths in Wuhan, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr.