"Xenophobia against African people in Guangzhou" is a false and misleading claim
2020/04/23

As COVID-19 spreads across the world, China is still under pressure to prevent domestic resurgence and imported cases. Chinese localities including Guangdong province are taking proper epidemic-containment measures. However, fake or hyped up video footages recently going viral online claim that Africans are being mistreated in China, followed by unfounded smearing remarks that China discriminates against African people.

No gene of discrimination in the long-standing China-Africa friendship

In reflection upon history, China and Africa, in the struggle against imperialism, colonization, apartheid, and in the endeavor to win national independence and liberation, have forged a brotherhood of common aspiration and solidarity in the pursuit of economic development and national rejuvenation. For decades, China, in a spirit of sincerity, being result oriented, affinity and good faith, has been helping Africa by offering aid in agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and other livelihood-related areas. In the 1970s when China was itself in economic difficulty, over 50,000 technicians and management personnel were sent to help build the Tazara Railway in Africa, completing the task under adverse conditions. Over 60 Chinese workers gave their lives while constructing it. Up till now, China has aided or financed the building of over 5,000 km of railway and roads, built more than 200 schools and nearly 100 hospitals, and trained more than 160,000 professional workers in Africa. Many African leaders studied in China.

The health sector is an important area in China-Africa cooperation. China has sent medical teams of altogether 21,000 members to Africa and has treated 220 million African patients. They are deeply respected by local people as some Chinese doctors even sacrificed their lives in this cause. After the Ebola epidemic raged through Africa in March, 2014, western countries including the US closed their embassies and evacuated diplomats and citizens from three West African countries hit by the epidemic. By sharp contrast, the Chinese government helped Africa at the earliest time possible. We sent not only urgently needed supplies but also medical teams of over 1,000 military and civilian doctors to areas stricken most severely by the epidemic. Chinese diplomats and medical experts chose to stay there instead of withdrawing. They fought together with local people until the virus was defeated. Hardship reveals true friendship. African people lauded China as a true friend in times of hardship and the Ebola epidemic is a touchstone of true friendship between China and Africa.

As Africa battles the spreading of COVID-19 outbreak, President Xi Jinping has recently made phone calls to leaders of South Africa, Egypt and other African countries to convey sympathy and support. Despite its ongoing domestic difficulty, China has provided emergency assistance to African brothers, sending much needed medical supplies to the AU and African countries through various channels, sharing experience on outbreak response, sending medical expert teams there and facilitating Africa's purchase of medical supplies in China. China will stand firmly with Africa in the fight against the virus. This demonstrates China-Africa Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership and China-Africa community with a shared future.

All foreigners in China are treated as equals

Unlike some countries who resort to herd immunity in response to the epidemic, China has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures to contain the virus, giving top priority to the safety and health of the Chinese people. Local transmission was basically terminated within two months. However, given the severity of global pandemic situation, China is still making efforts to prevent domestic resurgence and imported cases. Chinese localities including Guangdong province are taking proper measures to contain the virus. These control and prevention measures implemented in China, including quarantine, medical aid and community management, apply equally to Chinese or foreigners alike.

As of April 13, a total of 119 confirmed imported cases had been reported in Guangzhou, among which 26 cases were foreign nationals, including 19 African nationals. Of the 15 confirmed cases related to the imported ones, 14 are from Africa. Recently, 4,553 African nationals in Guangzhou underwent nucleic acid testing, of which 111 tested positive, including asymptomatic carriers. So African people in Guangzhou are a high-risk group. Their health and safety are exposed to greater threats. In order to protect the health and safety of Chinese and foreigners, Guangzhou has taken escalated measures to combat the disease starting from April 4, including comprehensive screening and checking of high-risk group of people and imposing a 14-day mandatory quarantine on inbound passengers. A total of 15,000 people have gone through home or concentrated quarantine, of which 4,600 are foreigners from 13 countries, including both Africa and the US, Australia and Russia. Therefore, there is by no means discrimination against Africa. 

The majority of foreign nationals in China understand and comply with the containment measures by the Chinese government. But there are extreme cases. A media report says that an African man, who was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 upon entering China, went through two-week quarantine. During his stay in hospital though, he did not cooperate with the hospital staff, walking around and trying many times to leave the hospital. A nurse found out and stopped him, only to be beaten and violence by the man, causing several injuries all over including some bite injuries to her face. It is hard for Chinese people not to be angered by such behaviours.

In the meantime, realizing there is room for improvement in the implementation of the measures, China attaches much importance to the specific concerns raised by African friends. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has spoken on this issue in a telephone conversation with the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat. Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong met with African diplomatic envoys to China. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson has also clarified China's position on the issue on multiple occasions. The Guangdong authorities are working promptly to improve their working method. The measures include: to provide health management services without differentiation, to designate hotels for the accommodation of foreigners required to undergo medical observation and adopt price adjustment for those in financial difficulties; to set up effective communication mechanism with foreign consulates-general in Guangzhou; and to reject all racist and discriminatory remarks.

Some Western media attempt to drive a wedge between China and Africa

As the common enemy of mankind, the virus knows no border. At the crucial moments when all countries are working together to combat the epidemic, some western politicians and media with ulterior motives, turning a blind eye to the rapidly escalating epidemic situation in their own countries, keep deflecting the blames for China and manufacturing the "political virus", despite China's containment efforts and contributions to the world. By spreading fake videos and twisting the facts, they attempt to sabotage the development of China-Africa relations so as to drive a wedge between China and Africa.

China and Africa have always been good friends, partners and brothers. In the middle of the pandemic, the two sides should make more concerted efforts to fight the virus. People from both sides should be vigilant against online contents that may mislead people's perceptions and sentiments. On the so-called discrimination against the Nigerian citizen, Nigerian Foreign Minister Onyeama also made clarifications to the press, saying that those audio clips twisted the facts of the incidents. He pointed out we live in a world deeply affected by social media, where people promote their own opinions to advance their own interests. He called on the Nigerian people to view such matters cautiously and objectively.

Meanwhile, we understand just like the teeth may bite the tongue, even family members may have frictions. It is understandable that there will be misunderstanding between Chinese and African people from time to time. The most important is that we properly address these frictions through candid and amicable consultation on the basis of mutual respect and equal treatment. Now most African countries make it clear that China and Africa are having sound communication and there is no such thing as discrimination in China. We believe China-Africa relations are mature and solid enough to withstand any test.

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