he coronavirus-inspired anti-Black racism experienced by Africans in China hasn’t gotten any better since it was exposed last month, according to an African leader in the Asian country. Maximus Ogbonna, president of the Association of Nigerian Community in China, told the South China Morning Press that the new policies put in place to address and curb the blatant racial discrimination has already fallen well short of the desire effects and offered a bleak outlook for Africans in China, where it is widely believed the COVID-19 disease originated.
“The locals are still avoiding black people,” Ogbonna said, “When they see black people, they will turn their back or run away, as if the black person is carrying the Covid-19!”
He added: “It’s funny – sometimes the Chinese person who used to be a friend has changed. This is just not normal.”
A series of viral videos filmed in China brought attention to the heightened racism against Black people there over concerns about the coronavirus. While the world’s first COVID-19 outbreak happened in Wuhan in central China late last year, Chinese people have alleged that African immigrants have brought the coronavirus there. That sentiment was on display when a video showed Africans being denied entry to a mall.
This is really painful to watch. The African Union must take action to help our African brothers and sisters who are living and working in China. We must take a clear stand as a continent. pic.twitter.com/qUQtP41VfW— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) April 18, 2020
A McDonald’s in China also posted a sign forbidding Africans from entering.
Access to shopping is one thing, but Africans living in China have also reported such treatment as being evicted without having any outstanding payments. The South China Morning Post reported that “The local government said service providers in the province were not allowed to treat Chinese and foreigners differently or discriminate based on nationality, race, gender or skin color, according to a report on the meeting by state media published on Sunday.”
As a result, many Africans in China were being forced to leave because of their visas not being renewed, not providing them enough time to leave the country.
“Recently, many Africans visas have expired, but the Chinese authorities are only planning to give them one-month extensions,” Ogbonna, the president of the Association of Nigerian Community in China, added. “[But] they will need at least two to three months to get their affairs in order before they can leave China.”
To be clear, anti-Black racism in China is nothing new, but it has been exacerbated by the coronavirus.
“Many Chinese people maintain stereotypes toward Africans partly due to the minimal contact they have with them but also because of the color of their skin,” a National Institutes of Health study from 2015 found. “For some, Africans are viewed as having a propensity to violence and posing risks to public health through spreading diseases. Discrimination is seen in business interactions and in their daily life (to rent apartments, to take a taxi, to go to restaurants).”