Amidst the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic in China, several videos have emerged purportedly showing how the Chinese government has harrased Africans, throwing them out of their homes and making them sleep on the streets of Guangzhou, in Guangdong Province of China.
This has recently created a huge furore on the social media site, Twitter.
The videos that have drawn an hashtag #ChinaMustExplain are eliciting comments and questions from Nigerians on social media, who have equally called on the Nigerian government, as well the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to look into the issue as a matter of urgency.
In some of the videos shared, the Chinese police could be seen sending people out to their residents, and in one particular video, a man speaking in Igbo can be heard lamenting that, “they have driven us out of our houses and have also stopped us from lodging in hotels.” This video was shot in front of a restaurant named African Pot Restaurant.
Another video shows a group of black people moving in the dark into what looks like a warehouse, with a voice in the background saying, “look where they brought us to, no exit.”
More videos emerging are showing testing facilities where Chinese nationals are encountering resistance from Africans to get tested for the coronavirus, with a complainant in one of these videos pushing back on the forced testing saying that, “we will not do anything without our embassy.”
A few hours after, a man, Oluyemi Fasipe did a post on Twitter, tagging the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, to one of the videos in circulation, to which the minister responded that, “we will engage the Chinese government urgently”.
In an audio note received by PREMIUM TIMES, one of the victims of the eviction, speaking in Igbo, spoke about how the Chinese had come a day before to take their blood samples and then returned another day for fresh blood samples from them. When they enquired about what happened to the earlier taken blood samples, they were told that people who took the samples were not at work.
“They asked to inject me but I refused,” said the fellow.
Among the videos shared is one showing a man, said to be the Consul General of Nigeria in Guangzhou, who came out in the early hours of Friday, April 10, between 12 am and 3 am, Chinese time, to request for and retrieve the seized passport of Nigerians, while also questioning why his fellow Nigerian were getting thrown out of the residences.
“It is not acceptable to the Federal Government of Nigeria. In Nigeria, we have a lot of Chinese people and I do not think you have ever heard that the government go to their houses and pick them to quarantine them,” he said to a man he called a Director, who appeared to be a representative of Guangzhou authorities.
“Why are Africans and indeed Nigerians being targeted amongst other nationals living in Guangzhou?” he asked.
He also queried why Nigerians without travel history were being quarantined without the notification of the consulate about this.
In his response, the said director stated that people needed to work together to contain the possibility of a second wave of the spread of the coronavirus. And that for some of these Nigerians to continue staying in China they needed to have residence permits.
The director is also captured asking the assaulted Nigerians to stop taking videos of the encounter.
The representative of the Nigerian consulate is seen in the video asking the Nigerians to write their residential addresses in their passports.
From another audio note sent to PREMIUM TIMES, the assaulted victims could be heard making preparations to settle into a hotel, and reviewing their situation.
“Due to the way the man confronted them, they gave us keys to the rooms we will stay in but because he knows how bad these people are he asked to check the place out before we do.
“We do not know what they sprayed in the room that almost condemned the man’s eye on getting into the room”, a man spoke in Igbo language.
The representative of the Nigerian consulate was captured in a video saying, “all of you want to kill me?”
According to Lucy Ezeaka, a Nigerian who lives in Chongqing Southwest China “it is true, it is happening in Guangzhou although we do not experience such here, I only recently started to notice a few Chinese avoiding me on the way.”
“The new stigma against blacks, I really cannot fathom it. I think the issue has been looked into last night by our consul in Guangzhou,” Mr Ezeaka said.
According to Ferdinand Nwoye, spokesperson Ministry of foreign affairs, Abuja, at the time this report was filed, “the minister yesterday had a meeting with the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Zhou Pingjan, however, I am yet to be briefed on the outcome of the meeting”.
The minister also made a post through his Twitter handle @GeofferyOnyeama which read, “invited the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Zhou Pingjian to communicate Nigerian Government extreme concern at allegations of maltreatment of Nigerians in Guangzhou, China and called for immediate Chinese government intervention”.
Another Nigerian, Muruako Emmanuel who lives in Taiyuan said for him it is a problem of being unable to follow rules.
“It is true that blacks are marginalised wherever they find themselves, however, I believe our nationals must have violated some rules” he said.
In a phone interview with Sun Saixiong, press officer, Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, “the embassy is making contact with the Chinese government to find out the true situation of things and not draw conclusions from a video on social media.”
Mr Saixiong asked PREMIUM TIMES to call him at 3 p.m. on Friday for an update.
Another hashtag #WeStandWithKenyans with similar pictures, videos and calls to the Kenyan government to intervene in the ill treatment meted on Kenyan nationals in China.
A video report on Citizen Tv Kenya, on Twitter also speaks to the same issue.
According to a video report on Citizen Tv Kenya’s Twitter account, the Chinese blamed the blacks for the newly reported cases of coronavirus. A lady whose face and name was withheld narrated how she was stopped from using the subway and evicted from her home which led her to sleeping on the road for 2 days.
According to the report, the Chinese government has asked landlords to get in contact with any African they lease their properties to as the properties are no longer available to Africans.
Her story is no different from other people of African descent in China who are littered all over the street because they have been evicted from their homes.