The Chinese government has stated that it has concluded plans to protect Africans in the country and will not tolerate discrimination against them.
The country’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, made the comment on Sunday at an event in Guangdong on anti-epidemic measures concerning African citizens in China, according to a statement by the Chinese Embassy in Abuja.
Amidst the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic in China, several videos have emerged showing how some Chinese are harassing Africans, throwing them out of their homes and making them sleep on the streets of Guangzhou, in Guangdong Province of China.
This has 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.
Nigeria’s House of Representatives speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had expressed displeasure to the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, over the alleged inhuman treatment meted out on some Nigerians by the Chinese authorities in Beijing.
In the official statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Lijan stated that “China and Africa are good friends, partners and brothers and (China) will not allow humiliation of Africans.”
“Our friendship is forged on the basis of joint efforts to seek national independence, liberation, economic development and better livelihood in the past decades.
“Such time-tested friendship is a treasure for both Chinese and African people. Humanity shines through the darkness of the epidemic.”
He said after the Ebola epidemics broke out in three West African countries in 2014, the Chinese government provided assistance at the earliest time possible and fought side by side African countries and people.
“Now faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Africa are again tiding over difficulties hand in hand, and our friendship is again elevated.
“We will not forget the support from Africa during our most difficult times. While overcoming difficulties at home, we also give love and care to all African citizens in China, especially African students.
“As the situation is getting more severe in Africa, the Chinese government and people have urgently delivered batches of supplies to the continent.
“Our assistance, conveying deep friendship for our African brothers and sisters, demonstrates our fine tradition of mutual assistance and mutual support, and has been highly acclaimed by African countries and the African Union.
“While arduously fight the virus at home, China has donated large amounts of test kits, masks, protective suits, goggles, face shields, forehead thermometers, medical-use gloves, shoe covers, ventilators and other supplies to the African Union and African countries,” part of the releases noted.
What we are doing to help Africans
Mr Lijan stated that China will continue helping African countries to the best of its ability.
“During our fight against the coronavirus, the Chinese government has heen attaching great importance to the life and health of foreign nationals in China.
“All foreigners are treated equally. We reject differential treatment, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination,” he added.
“Since the outbreak, the authorities in Guangdong attach high importance to the treatment of foreign patients, including African nationals.
“Specific plans and proper arrangements are made to protect their life and health to the best of our ability, thanks to which we were able to save the lives of some African patients in severe or critical conditions.”
“The Guangdong authorities attach great importance to some African countries’ concerns and are working promptly to improve their working method.”
He stated that those measures include providing health management services without differentiation, designating hotels for the accommodation of foreigners required to undergo medical observation and adopting price adjustment for those in financial difficulties.
Others are setting up of an effective communication mechanism with foreign consulates-general in Guangzhou and rejecting all racist and discriminatory remarks.
“The Chinese people always see in the African people partners and brothers through thick and thin.
“China-Africa friendship is unbreakable as it is deeply rooted in this land. African friends can count on getting fair, just, cordial and friendly reception in China.”
He said the country’s foreign ministry will stay in close communication with the Guangdong authorities and continue responding to the African side’s reasonable concerns and legitimate appeals.
Why Nigerians were restricted
Apart from the formal statement by the Chinese foreign ministry, the Chinese embassy in Nigeria also shared a post allegedly by a Nigerian named Zara Onyinye, justifying the actions against some Nigerians in China.
In her post, Ms Onyinye said the main reason movement by Nigerians was being restricted was because many of them were just returning to China.
“Before the Chinese borders were closed, many Nigerians have also entered China to do business, the Chinese government then asked that they be kept in isolation, until they have been tested after 14 days of the quarantine.”
“The Chinese government would lead them by themselves to a particular hotel in Gwanzo, China as every other hotel have been instructed not to allow any *foreigner* into their rooms.”
“For those kept in isolation, health workers are also instructed to test and check their temperatures every morning and if after 14 days, you are tested negative to the virus, you’ll be released and free to go about your daily business.”
“Just before the conclusion of 14 days…there were suspected cases of three people but two were discharged due to the fact that they were diagnosed with Thyphoid and malaria…while only one person had the virus.”
She stated that the one diagnosed with the virus refused to get treated as he was accusing the health workers of attempting to infect him with the virus.
“He even had to hit a nurse on her face and she got injured,” she stated.
She said Chinese government workers there got angry but then the chairman of Nigerian business men in China came and pleaded and asked that the boy be treated. The officials reportedly agreed but said he would be deported after treatment.
Ms Onyinye said the discovery of an African with the virus made the authorities more interested in testing more Africans.
“They had to check every eatery in Gwanzo, China where Nigerian dishes were prepared to search for Nigerians as tests were now carried out on all black people and foreigners.”
“A discovery was made of an eatery where a woman who prepared mostly Nigerian dishes just returned from home and refused to self isolate and yet have already been preparing food for people…she was then tested and she was positive with the virus.”
She said this led to the lock down of all local black eateries in Gwangzo town alone.
“The woman was then taken for treatment and other blacks were highly monitored because if she had been preparing food for them…then there must likely (be) a case of where she must have transmitted the virus.
She narrated that a news was then passed for everyone to remain indoors while health workers would go about testing people from door to door.
“Health workers then went about from door to door to test persons for the virus and if found Negative, you’d be given a card with which you’d carry around in order to enter any facility.”
“Nigerians at the hotel started ravaging and kept shouting that they should be set free for they can’t be kept locked up for more than 14days.”
“Some even had to force their way through and exit the hotel.”
She said there was an order that anyone who leaves the hotel premises should not be allowed to come back in but yet Nigerians left to the market and when they returned, they weren’t allowed to go in.
“This was what caused the clustering at the front of the hotel and they begin to spread false news that the Chinese government have denied them access to their homes and residences…and are being asked to leave.”
She stated that many Nigerians disobeyed the “sit at home” law and were no where to be found when health workers visited their homes for testing.
She added that those who stayed indoors were all tested and given cards and till date have no issues with accommodation or the Chinese government.