Nigeria’s unprecedented censure of China

Foreign Affairs

I’ve been covering the China-Africa story closely for more than 10 years and I can’t think of another example of such a forceful denunciation of the Chinese government by a group of African governing elites.

Nigeria's House of Representatives passes an unprecedented motion to censure China for its reported maltreatment of Nigerians in Guangzhou. Screenshot from a video on spokesperson Benjamin Kalu’s Twitter account

When the motion came up for a vote yesterday in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, there was remarkable unity: “AYE!” declared the floor in response to the Speaker’s call for a voice vote to pass an unprecedented motion to censure China for its reported maltreatment of Nigerians in Guangzhou.

The motion also calls for a nationwide audit of the immigration status of every Chinese national in Nigeria and to check Chinese businesses in the country for illegal or undocumented persons.

The motion passed without objection.

I’ve been covering the China-Africa story closely for more than 10 years and I can’t think of another example of such a forceful denunciation of the Chinese government by a group of African governing elites. There have of course been outspoken China hawks from time to time, like the former Zambian opposition leader Michael Sata (before he became president), but for the most part, they’ve been outliers.

China should be concerned that what happened this week on the House floor in Abuja could encourage legislators in other countries to take similar actions, particularly in places like Kenya and South Africa where there are large constituencies of young voters who appear to share Nigerians’ outrage about the situation in Guangzhou.

Given that Chinese officials seem unwilling to express the kind of remorse African civil society is calling for, it’s hard to tell what Beijing can actually do to contain the fallout.

—Eric Olander

More details:

  • The above text is adapted from today’s China-Africa Project Daily Brief. More China-Africa coverage from CAP can be found on their website.
  • SupChina’s previous coverage of the current crisis in China-Africa relations can be found here.