On April 8, a 15-person Chinese medical team arrived in Nigeria to assist with the country’s fight against COVID-19. The team brought with them more than a million masks, ventilators, Personal Protective Equipment and other pandemic essentials. It was another example of Chinese support for African countries during what is now one of the darkest, excruciating periods for humanity. But, the same day, I started to receive reports of Africans being discriminated against in Guangdong province, based on their COVID-19 status – videos of Nigerians roaming the streets of Guangzhou (Guangdong’s capital city) and sleeping under bridges amid rainfall went viral on social media.
Since I had traveled across China for 10 months in 2018, courtesy of the Chinese government, I have extensive contacts within the African community in China. Within minutes, I was able to reach a couple of Nigerians living in Guangzhou, and they confirmed the videos, adding that it appeared authorities in Guangzhou had also ordered mass testing of black people in the city. However, Chinese authorities, at the time, reiterated that China does not condone any form of discrimination against foreigners. “China always attaches great importance to the safety and health of foreign nationals in China and protects their legitimate rights and interests in accordance with law,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, said on April 7th.
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