Authorities should also protect Africans and people of African descent throughout China from discrimination in employment, housing, and other realms.
In early April 2020, Chinese authorities in the southern city of Guangzhou, Guangdong province, which has China’s largest African community, began a campaign to forcibly test Africans for the coronavirus, and ordered them to self-isolate or to quarantine in designated hotels.
Landlords then evicted African residents, forcing many to sleep on the street, and hotels, shops, and restaurants refused African customers.
Other foreign groups have generally not been subjected to similar treatment.
“Chinese authorities claim ‘zero tolerance’ for discrimination, but what they are doing to Africans in Guangzhou is a textbook case of just that,” said Yaqiu Wang, China researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“Beijing should immediately investigate and hold accountable all officials and others responsible for discriminatory treatment.”
On April 12, Guangdong authorities announced that all foreigners in the province must accept “Covid-19 prevention and containment measures” including “testing, sampling and quarantine.” In practice, the authorities just targeted Africans for forced testing and quarantine.
They visited homes of African residents, testing them on the spot or instructing them to take a test at a hospital.
Some were ordered to self-isolate at home with surveillance cameras or alarms installed outside of their apartments.
There was no evident scientific basis for the policy.
Most imported cases of Covid-19 to the province were Chinese nationals returning from abroad.
Many Africans had already tested negative for coronavirus, had no recent travel history, or had not been in contact with known Covid-19 patients.
Elsewhere in China, some Africans reported police and local officials had harassed them, and hospitals and restaurants turned them away.
The Chinese government denied discriminating against Africans in Guangzhou, saying that it “reject[s] differential treatment” and has “zero tolerance for discrimination.” Chinese state media also ran stories seeking to refute criticism that Chinese authorities had mistreated African nationals and blamed “Western media” for “provok[ing] the problems between China and African countries.”
Official figures show that about 14,000 African nationals live in Guangzhou, but researchers estimate thousands more are there without documentation.
Because of virus-related mistreatment, many Africans in China have urged their governments to call on the Chinese government to cease all forms of discrimination against Africans, and some want their governments to evacuate them from China.
The Kenyan government announced it would fly out Kenyans stranded in China on May 1.
Reports of discrimination against Africans in China sparked outrage among African communities around the world, Human Rights Watch said.
Several African governments, including Nigeria, Uganda, and Ghana, summoned Chinese ambassadors in their countries to protest.
Ambassadors from several African countries in China wrote to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, calling for the Chinese government to cease “forceful testing, quarantine and other inhuman treatment meted out to Africans.”
More than 300 human rights groups and nearly 1,800 activists in Africa sent an open letter to the African Union calling for “immediate remedial action” over the “xenophobic, racist and inhumane treatment of Africans in China.” ■
A large-scale blocking pattern over North America is leading to a series of upper level disturbances tracking across the southern tier and off the East Coast this weekend, while a robust ridge of high pressure forms over the North Central U.S, and southern Canada.