SA diplomats join intervention over treatment of Africans in China amid coronavirus

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa and China's President Xi Jinping. File image
South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa and China's President Xi Jinping. File image
Image: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Allegations of Africans being targeted in China and subjected to forced evictions, arbitrary quarantines and mass coronavirus testing are unconfirmed, but will be raised with the Asian country, says SA's department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco).

“We urge the Chinese authorities to investigate these allegations about Africans being subjected to testing for the coronavirus,” Dirco said on Sunday.

SA is the current chair of the African Union.

The African Group of Ambassadors in Beijing have sent a message to the Chinese government and Communist Party over the treatment of African nationals, particularly in Guangdong province, reports SABC. A meeting between the AU and the Chinese ambassador in Addis Ababa is expected to be held on Sunday.

Deputy director-general of global governance and continental agenda of SA, ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi, told SABC News that SA was deeply concerned by the allegations and that appropriate remedial measures should be taken, where necessary.

“What we have received is just reports ... we  welcome the assurances of China that it is not the policy of the government to discriminate against African nationals.

“We enjoy excellent, cordial relations with China. Matters such as this are dealt with through the appropriate diplomatic channels as per usual. We are engaging with the Chinese authorities and we are hopeful that we will find a solution,” said Nkosi.

Reuters reports that African ambassadors in China have written to the country’s foreign minister over what they call discrimination against Africans. Several African countries have separately also demanded that China address their concerns that Africans, in particular in the southern city of Guangzhou, are being mistreated and harassed.

AFP reported China says it has largely curbed its Covid-19 outbreak but a recent cluster of cases linked to the Nigerian community in Guangzhou sparked the alleged discrimination by locals and virus prevention officials.

Local authorities in the industrial centre of 15 million people said at least eight people diagnosed with the illness had spent time in the city's Yuexiu district, known as “Little Africa”. Five were Nigerian nationals who faced widespread anger after reports surfaced that they had broken a mandatory quarantine and been to eight restaurants and other public places instead of staying home, according to AFP. As a result, nearly 2,000 people they came into contact with had to be tested for Covid-19 or undergo quarantine.

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