When news emerged in early April that Africans residents in the city of Guangzhou, Guangdong Province were facing a wave of discrimination and even evictions because of unfounded suspicion that they were bringing COVID-19 to China, China’s reaction was denial. “All foreigners are treated equally. We reject differential treatment, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination,” a foreign ministry statement published on CGTN Africa read.
China later moved to address the rupture crisis in China-Africa relations, but never admitted that there had been a problem. Nigeria’s House of Representatives last week passed an unprecedented motion to censure China for its mistreatment of Africans in Guangzhou.
Now, per the SCMP:
Guangdong province has announced new measures to stop discrimination against foreigners…
The measures, introduced on Saturday, are the latest attempt to make amends with the African community following reports that Africans were being forcibly quarantined, kicked out of their homes and denied service in shops and hotels under the guise of controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Xinhua reporter Zichen Wang has more information on the regulations in a Twitter thread.
The regulations are a tacit recognition that the incidents of discrimination were real and worth preventing in the future. It remains to be seen if these measures end up satisfying African civil society, especially in countries like South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria where condemnation of China was loudest last month.
Related: Two new essays worth reading on China-Africa relations in the time of COVID-19:
There are Chinese racists, and there are Chinese global citizens / China-Africa Project (porous paywall)
Huáng Hóngxiáng 黄泓翔, the founder of China House, a sustainable development NGO in Kenya, writes about the diversity of Chinese people and their interactions with Africans.
Bring back the “Bandung spirit” in China-Africa relationship / Panda Paw Dragon Claw
Scholar Liú Hǎifāng 刘海方 of Peking University reflects on the history of the China-Africa relationship, and encourages China to “return to the starting point of its embrace of Africa when it was a newly founded country on the international stage” (in 1955, there was a conference in Bandung, Indonesia at which many Asian and African countries found common ground.)