Coronavirus: Nigeria to engage China over maltreatment of nationals — Minister

The federal government has said it will not accept any form of discrimination against Nigerians and other Africans residing in China.

Speaking at the daily Presidential Task Force briefing on Thursday, the minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the recently alleged inhumane treatment of some blacks in China is unacceptable.

He said the government will be working with leaders of other Africa countries “to take definitive steps against China”.

”I have received reports and we told them that it is unacceptable and we are also engaging with other African countries to decide and work together definitive steps and measures that we will take because of this situation,” he said.

Amidst the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic in China, several videos were circulated on social media showing Chinese authorities harassing Africans, including Nigerians, throwing them out of their homes and forcing them to sleep on the streets of Guangzhou, in Guandong Province of China.

The videos drew a hashtag #ChinaMust Explain as Nigerians on social media prevailed on the government, as well as the foreign affairs ministry, to intervene.

Though the Nigerian government blamed the action on poor communication between the Chinese authorities and African consulates in Guangzhou, China, it said necessary action will be taken.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: 111 Africans test positive in China

In reaction, the Chinese government said it has concluded plans to protect Africans in the country and will not tolerate discrimination against them.

Red line

Mr Onyeama said the government will fight to the very end to ensure justice is served.

He said the Nigerian consulate in Guangzhou has been directed to systematically detail every single case of discrimination, loss or damage suffered by any Nigerian.

He noted that every single case will be followed robustly and compensation and damages will be done where required.

”So for us, as I said, it is a red line and we are going to fight it to the very end.

”We are extremely disappointed because we have excellent relations with the government and people of China that such a thing can happen at this stage,” he said.

He explained how the government, out of solidarity refused to place a ban on China when the pandemic started in Wuhan.

“When there were calls for travels to be banned to China when they had the outbreak in Wuhan, we went along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) advice not to place a ban on China and we showed real solidarity.

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”But really we are deeply wounded by what has happened to Nigerians and other Africans in China and of course,” Mr Onyeama said.

Compromise

Meanwhile, Mr Onyeama said the government will not compromise the dignity of Nigerians and the entire black race on the altar of economic cooperation with China.

“There have been some comments in the public domain that we are somehow held hostage by the fact that we have received a lot of economic cooperation from China in the past.

”But I can assure you we are going to pursue to the very end irrespective of whatever economic cooperation that we have with China because, in the world of today, we will not tolerate any form of racism or discrimination against Africans.

”It behoves on us to be in the front line in defending the divinity of blacks and Africans everywhere in the world,” he said.



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