South Africa has urged China to investigate reports that African nationals in the country have been subject to forced coronavirus testing, forced quarantine measures and other forms of ill-treatment.
The International Relations Department says in a statement that as the chair of the African Union, South Africa is deeply concerned about the reports.
The department says such actions would be inconsistent with the good relations between African nations and China.
South Africa has welcomed the AU Commission Chairperson’s decision to summon the Chinese Ambassador in Addis Ababa to provide an explanation regarding the reports.
AU meets Chinese Ambassador over ‘African evictions’ reports
AU Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, met with the Chinese Ambassador to the AU, Liu Yaki, to express concern about allegations that Africans are being mistreated in China during the coronavirus pandemic.
My Office invited the Chinese Amb to the AU,Mr Liu Yuxi, to express our extreme concern at allegations of maltreatment of Africans in #Guangzhou+called for immediate remedial measures in line with our excellent relations.The African Grp in #Beijing is also engaging with the govt pic.twitter.com/NEBStdOCeK
— Moussa Faki Mahamat (@AUC_MoussaFaki) April 11, 2020
There’s been a stream of reports alleging that African nationals in Guangzhou city have been forcefully evicted and placed in arbitrary quarantine. It is believed they were forcibly evicted from their homes and now are being turned away by hotels.
Beijing is yet to issue a formal update on the matter.
African nations complain about treatment of Africans
Several African countries have demanded that China address their concerns that Africans in Guangzhou city are being mistreated and harassed amid fears there of a potential spread of coronavirus from imported cases.
In recent days Africans in the city have reported being ejected from their apartments by their landlords, being tested for coronavirus several times without being given results and being shunned and discriminated against in public. Such complaints have been made in local media, and on social media.
In a statement on Saturday, Ghana’s minister of foreign affairs Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said she had summoned the Chinese ambassador to express her disappointment and demand action to address the “inhumane treatment.”
“I regret and highly condemn this…ill-treament and racial discrimination,” the minister said.
She said she had summoned Ambassador Shi Ting Wang to “register my disappointment and call for his government to immediately address the situation and bring their officials to order.”
There was no immediate response from the Chinese Embassy in Ghana to a request for comment on this.
In a tweeted statement on Saturday, the Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe dismissed the accusation of Chinese deliberately targeting Africans and suggested reports of racial discrimination and harassment were being sensationalized.
“It is harmful to sensationalize isolated incidents,” the statement said. “China treats all individuals in the country, Chinese and foreign alike, as equals.”
China has ended its more than two-month lockdown in Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus infections began, after containing the outbreak there but authorities are now worried about a potential second wave of infection from imported cases.
At the peak of the outbreak in Wuhan some African nations refused to evacuate their students from China, expressing confidence in Beijing’s ability to handle the outbreak.
In a press statement on Friday the Kenyan government said the “stringent testing of foreigners” that China had undertaken had “precipitated unfair responses against foreigners particularly of African origin.”
In the foreign ministry statement about the treatment of Africans in Guangzhou, Nairobi “officially expressed concern.” It added that government was 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.