Covid-19: Chinese treatment of Africans

IN the wake of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic experience, China has treated African residents within its borders like scum. The situation has been so bad that it is actually difficult to believe that its previous investments in the continent had wholesome intentions. China’s inhuman and hostile disposition to Africans in China, especially in the Guangzhou Guangdong province, beggars belief. The Chinese people have been bestial to the Africans in China, and that is putting it mildly. Only recently, the naked display of hostility forced Nigeria’s  Foreign Affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, to resort to desperate measures to evacuate Nigerian citizens entrapped within the borders of China.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China, the Chinese people have been forcing Africans out of their legitimate residences and even hotels. They have insisted on many baseless conditions for them to be accommodated. They force them to self-isolate, and self-quarantine even after repeatedly testing negative to the coronavirus. In a manner quite consistent with their antics even in Africa, the Chinese refuse Africans entry into malls and shopping plazas and other public places in circumstances that reek of discrimination and racial prejudice. Many African countries have protested against these evil deeds, but, as usual, the Chinese authorities have denied the allegations even in the face of mounting evidence. Worse still, many Chinese citizens have been aiming racial slurs at Africans with impunity.

The social media is awash with the sordid details of the maltreatment meted out to Africans in China, together with the outrage this has spurred. But the political leadership on the African continent has failed to raise strident, commensurate voices in protest, compromised by a mess of pottage, the so-called ‘generous loans’ from China. It is unacceptable to allow China to treat Africans so despicably. Happily, though, there was a notable exception in the case of a Nigerian government official who withstood authorities in the Guangdong province of China, calling them out for their lackadaisical attitude to the horrible treatment of Nigerians.

It is equally worthy of note that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, confronted the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria with the video of the incident where a Nigerian was seen challenging Chinese officials over the unhealthy treatment meted out to Nigerians in China, stating that the inhuman acts must be addressed forthwith. As the Speaker observed, media reports and videos from Beijing showed Nigerians being forced out of their houses and hotels and rounded up, and having their passports seized by the Chinese police.

The tempo of such protests must be increased. The Chinese government must realise that its conduct is most reprehensible and unacceptable to Africans all over the world, and indeed to all lovers of freedom. Indeed, among others, the United States government deplored the horrible treatment of Africans in China, accusing Beijing of xenophobia. We are also miffed by the way Chinese people treat Africans even in their own countries: their fundamental rights are regularly suspended in places of work owned by Chinese nationals. If the Chinese people can deign to mess with Africans on their own continent, what stops them from doing worse things to them in China? Unfortunately, the power relations between African countries and China remains skewed in its favour.

To be sure, the African Union has a great role to play in the matter. Every arsenal of negotiation must be deployed in restoring the dignity of the African continent. The victims of the Chinese assaults must be compensated, with China offering an unreserved apology for the hostility to the African people. It is really impossible to justify the evacuation of African immigrants and residents from their legitimate accommodation and hotels, the enforced isolations despite testing negative for the Covid-19 pandemic; the discrimination against them for a plague which the Chinese people should be held responsible for. China, to say the least, has not been fair to the Africans within its territory.


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