African nationals ‘mistreated, evicted’ in China over coronavirus

By Al Jazeera

African students and expatriates in China are reportedly being evicted from their homes and mistreated over fears they could spread the novel coronavirus.

African ambassadors in China have written to the country’s foreign minister over what they call discrimination against Africans as the country seeks to prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan last December.

Several African countries have separately also demanded that China address their concerns that Africans, in particular in the southern city of Guangzhou, are being mistreated and harassed.

In recent days Africans in Guangzhou have reported being evicted from their apartments by their landlords, being tested for coronavirus several times without being given results, and being shunned and discriminated against in public. Such complaints have been made in local media and on social media.

Having brought under control the original outbreak centred on the city of Wuhan, Beijing is now concerned about imported cases and is stepping up scrutiny of foreigners coming into the country and tightening border controls. It has denied any discrimination.

Al Jazeera’s Sarah Clarke, reporting from Hong Kong, said there seemed to be a concern in China that the African community in Guangzhou could be behind a second wave of infections.

“There is an escalating scrutiny of foreign nationals, but they are targeting the Africans and the African American community. Since last Thursday we saw 114 new cases reported in Guangzhou of coronavirus infections and 16 of those were Africans.”

“We’ve seen a number of reports from social media from members of the African community in Guangzhou making complaints of mistreatment, arrests, eviction and being denied access to restaurants and hotels, and some students are even claiming to be living on the streets and being denied food,” she said.