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China Accused of Discriminating Against Africans as Part of Coronavirus Fight

Chinese officials are denying allegations that people of color are facing discrimination and even eviction under coronavirus mitigation efforts, as they report that Africans are among the country’s newly confirmed cases.

The Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, reported last week that 111 people from Africa living in the city of Guangzhou had tested positive for the coronavirus. This followed confirmation from U.S. and African officials — and at least one business — that people were being denied services, subjected to COVID-19 tests and forced into supervised quarantine.

A group of African ambassadors in Beijing were the first to raise the issue, co-signing a letter saying Africans were being subjected to humiliation and harassment despite adhering to local policies designed to mitigate the spread of the virus. Africans from Togo, Nigeria and Benin had been evicted from hotels in the middle of the night, a group of African students was forced to take tests despite not having traveled recently, and others reported being threatened with having their visas and work permits revoked, said the letter, addressed to China’s foreign ministry.

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The U.S. Consulate General then issued a warning on April 13 that people appearing to be of African origin or in contact with African nationals were being forced to take COVID-19 tests and undergo quarantine — under supervision and at their own expense in some cases — regardless of their recent travel history or whether they had already completed a required period of self-isolation.

“African Americans have also reported that some businesses and hotels refuse to do business with them,” it said.

At a McDonald’s in Guangzhou, a video shared on Twitter showed workers carrying signs that say “black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant.”

McDonald’s responded by saying the signs were removed immediately and the restaurant has been temporarily closed.

“This is not representative of our inclusive values,” the company said in a statement to NBC News. “We will take the opportunity to further educate managers and employees on our values, which includes serving all members of the communities in which we operate.”


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