AU demands ‘immediate remedial measures’ from China after claims of hostility towards Africans
The African Union is demanding that China remedy the situation in parts of the country where foreigners are allegedly being mistreated.
The statement comes after claims emerged that in Guangzhou, Africans have been evicted from their homes by landlords and turned away from hotels.
“My Office invited the Chinese Ambassador to the AU Mr. Liu Yuxi, to express our extreme concern at allegations of maltreatment of Africans in Guangzhou and called for immediate remedial measures in line with our excellent relations. The African Group in Beijing is also engaging with the government,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission.
African ambassadors in China had written to the country’s foreign minister over what they term as discrimination of citizens.
Having brought under control the original outbreak centred on the city of Wuhan, China 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.
The ambassadors’ note said such “stigmatisation and discrimination” created the false impression that the virus was being spread by Africans.
“The Group of African Ambassadors in Beijing immediately demands the cessation of forceful testing, quarantine and other inhuman treatments meted out to Africans,” it said.
The note was sent to China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, copying the chair of the African Union, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and all African foreign ministers.
The Chinese foreign ministry’s International Press Centre did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the note, sent outside of business hours.
The Chinese embassy in South Africa also did not respond.
Foreign affairs official Liu Baochun told a news conference on Sunday that Guangzhou is enforcing anti-virus measures on anyone who enters the city from across the national border, regardless of nationality, race or gender.
The Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe on Saturday dismissed the accusation that Africans were being deliberately targeted.
“It is harmful to sensationalize isolated incidents,” it said in a tweeted statement. “China treats all individuals in the country, Chinese and foreign alike, as equals.”
The ambassadors’ note highlighted a number of reported incidents, including that Africans were being ejected from hotels in the middle of the night, the seizure of passports, and threats of visa revocation, arrest or deportation.
On Saturday, Ghana’s foreign minister of affairs Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said she had summoned the Chinese ambassador to express her disappointment and demand action.
Kenya’s foreign ministry has also “officially expressed concern”, adding the government is working with Chinese authorities to address the matter.
On Friday, Nigerian legislator Akinola Alabi tweeted a video of a meeting between the leader of Nigeria’s lower house of parliament, Femi Gbajabiamila, and Chinese Ambassador Zhou Pingjian.
In it, Gbajabiamila demanded an explanation from the diplomat after showing Zhou a video of a Nigerian complaining about mistreatment in China.
The ambassador said in response to the questions from the house leader that he took the complaints “very seriously” and promised to convey them to the authorities back home.
Additional report from Reuters
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