Beijing faces a diplomatic crisis in Africa after reports of alleged coronavirus-related discrimination against Africans in China cause outrage across the continent.
African students and expatriates were forced to do the test for coronavirus. They also were forced to stay 14-days in self-quarantine regardless of the recent travel history.
Large numbers of Africans got evicted by landlords and rejected by hotels in the city.
In Africa, the government, media outlets, and citizens reacted angrily because of some videos. The videos depict Africans harassed by police, ones who sleep on the street or are locked into their houses under quarantine.
Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, denied the fact that China had been singling out foreigners.
“All foreigners are treated equally. We reject differential treatment, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination,” he said.
African countries are often characterized as the weaker partner in bilateral relations with Beijing. The US officials repeatedly warned nations to be wary of so-called Chinese debt-trap diplomacy.
In recent days, African governments demanded answers from Beijing about the treatment of their citizens.
The Nigerian lawmaker Oloye Akin Alabi posted a video on Twitter of Zhao Lijian being grilled by a Nigerian politician over the mistreatment of Africans in Guangzhou.
On Sunday, Zhao Lijian responded to the diplomatic crisis.
He promises that provincial authorities will attach “great importance” to the concerns of some African countries. He also promises that he will improve quarantine measures.
On Sunday, the local police said that all foreigners must strictly abide by Chinese laws. Those who refuse to show identification when requested by police would face punishment.
The state-owned Global Times broke its silence on the continued diplomatic fallout by writing that “viral reports in Western media alleging Africans are being discriminated against and badly treated in the city” were “used by some Western media to provoke the problems between China and African countries.”
By the end of the weekend, most of the displaced Africans in Guangzhou, mainly traders and students had found shelter.
According to CNN some volunteers had rallied to connect Africans with landlords and hotels who would still accept foreigners. Others had been rounded up by local authorities and taken into quarantine at government-assigned hotels.
Hannah Ryder, a British-Kenyan who used to work for the United Nations in China said these types of incidents can have a massive impact on how people in Africa view China. “If they are not handled properly they can result in far larger consequences than people sleeping on the street. They can have repercussions on international relations, trade, and even diplomacy,” said Ryder.