China denies discrimination against viruses

China denies discrimination against viruses

In the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, the Chinese foreign ministry has denied allegations of prejudice against Africans.

Ambassadors from African countries to China sent a formal protest in this regard to the government in Beijing last week.

"All foreigners are treated equally. We reject differential treatment, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination. African friends can count on getting fair, just, cordial and friendly reception in China," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press conference.

The statement came in response to a letter sent by African ambassadors to several Chinese government officials on Friday, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi, as well as to the UN Human Rights Council.

The diplomats mentioned "discrimination and stigmatisation" against Africans in China, especially in the southeastern province of Guangzhou, in the missive reproduced by the Nigerian newspaper Independent.

Reports have emerged in recent days from Africans allegedly expelled from hotels for no other reason than their citizenship, being subjected to compulsory coronavirus testing despite not having traveled late-something not carried on non-African foreigners-and even forced family evictions.

The ambassadors also talked about alleged cases of involuntary quarantine for Africans despite having tested negative in the coronavirus tests, and threats of canceling visas and deportation, despite getting their papers and passports in order.

The missive said that only Africans' arbitrary and forced quarantine was neither scientific nor rational, and amounted to racism, thus giving the impression that the virus was propagated by Africans, even though they are the least exposed to COVID-19.

South Africa, as chair of the African Union (AU), released a statement urging "the relevant Chinese authorities to investigate these reports and take appropriate remedial measures".

"Reports of these alleged actions are inconsistent with the excellent relations that exist between China and Africa, dating back to China's support during the decolonisation struggle in Africa, and now manifesting in an extensive Africa-China partnership," it added.

Uganda and Ghana's foreign ministers have summoned the respective Chinese ambassadors to protest against this perceived unfair treatment in their countries.

Image: flag of China