News & Politics

Coronavirus Reveals China's Horrific Racism Against Black People

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, left, and Chinese President, Xi Jinping shake hands during the signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Tuesday, April 12, 2016 (Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Pool Photo via AP)

While American liberals castigate President Donald Trump as racist for countering Chinese Communist Party propaganda (which claims the coronavirus originated in America) by referring to the “Chinese virus,” black people in China face extra quarantines, exclusion from businesses, suspicion from police, and some have even been booted from their own homes in the name of fighting the virus.

“The way they are treating black people, you cannot accept,” Congolese businessman Felly Mwamba, who has lived in China for 16 years and now faces restrictions in the southern city of Guangzhou, told The New York Times. He said he found himself sealed in his home, prohibited from leaving and viewed with suspicion as a carrier of the disease, simply because he was African. “We are not animals.”

The Chinese Communist Party has claimed that its tyrannical restrictions stopped the spread of the coronavirus in the Middle Kingdom until those darned “foreigners” started bringing the virus back. It is far more likely they are lying to cover up the pandemic, just as they did before. As even The Times admitted, the new imported cases come from “Chinese nationals returning home.”

“Though the Chinese government denounced racist attacks against Asians overseas when the outbreak was centered in China, it now casts people from other countries as public health risks,” The Times reported.

The attacks on foreigners seem particularly targeted against black people. Africans in Guangzhou told The Washington Post they have been evicted from their apartments and refused entry to restaurants. Other residents in a part of the city known as “Little Africa” are being forced to remain in their apartments, even if they have not traveled anywhere that would warrant quarantine, and submit to coronavirus tests.

“People are not happy because they’re being forced out of their apartments and into hotels where they have to pay [$30] a night for 28 days,” Maximus Ogbonna, the president of a Nigerian community group in Guangzhou, told The Post. Although he completed a 14-day quarantine in March after returning from Nigeria, he was told by local officials on April 8 that he had to undergo a second 14-day quarantine, even though he had tested negative for the virus and had not traveled elsewhere. Ogbonna is restricted to his apartment, where police installed a camera over the door to monitor him.

Of the 183 people who have returned with the virus from outside China in Guangdong province, of which Guangzhou is the capital, only 22 were from Africa. Roughly 30,000 foreigners live in the city, including about 4,500 Africans.

“Photos and videos posted on social media over the weekend showed Africans sleeping on sidewalks or waiting under shop awnings after being ordered out of their apartments and hotel rooms. Others showed Nigerian diplomats delivering food in the pouring rain to evicted compatriots, and Chinese police in riot gear herding African men along a street,” the Post reported.

A local McDonald’s restaurant posted a notice on its doors reading, “We’ve been informed that from now on black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant. For the sake of your health, consciously notify the local police for medical isolation. Please understand the inconvenience caused.” The global fast-food company apologized for the racist notice and temporarily closed the restaurant.

The U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou warned African Americans about discrimination. It sent an advisory to Americans in China reporting that police ordered bars and restaurants not to serve clients who appear to be of African origin. Local officials were implementing coronavirus tests followed by mandatory self-quarantine “for anyone with ‘African contacts,’ regardless of recent travel history or previous quarantine completion.”

Yet the racist and xenophobic ugliness extends far outside of Guangzhou.

Lucky Destiny, a Nigerian jewelry exporter who lives in Yiwu, told The New York Times that whenever he went outside during the past two weeks, locals would cover their noses or move away. Shopkeepers shooed him away, and people stepped out buses when he stepped on. He has taken to buying food only at night to avoid suspicion.

“I had a plan for business, being able to build something for my family,” he said. “If this continues, I will try to leave.”

In March, a porridge restaurant in the northeastern city of Shenyang displayed a banner reading, “Celebrating the epidemic in the United States and wishing coronavirus a nice trip to Japan.” A widely circulated cartoon showed foreigners being sorted into trash cans. Foreigners have reportedly been barred from some shops and gyms, supposedly to stop the spread of the virus.

African diplomats have condemned China’s mistreatment of black people.

“The leadership of the House of Representatives has expressed displeasure over the inhuman treatment meted out on some Nigerians by the Chinese authorities in Beijing,” tweeted Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives.

“Kenya and the rest of Africa feel deeply betrayed by China,” Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper wrote in an editorial, saying that Africa supported China during the coronavirus outbreak yet Chinese people had “turned against Africans in their midst.”

America has a dark history with racism, but the U.S. has long fought against racial animus. Countries like China, Japan, and South Korea have long histories of animus against one another, and racial hatreds run deep.

In the case of China, nationalism also leads to a racist view of white people and black people as inferior. In 2016, a detergent ad went viral due to its obvious racism. The ad depicts a dirty black boy flirting with a Chinese girl. The girl throws him in a washing machine that tosses him around and — Presto! — he emerges “clean” … and Chinese.

While liberal journalists and Democrats condemn Trump as “racist” for refusing to buy China’s Communist Party propaganda, that very Communist Party slaps black people with extra coronavirus restrictions. This should come as little surprise, given China’s abominable treatment of the Uyghur Muslims — who are a racial and a religious minority.

Naturally, it would be extremely unfair to accuse all Chinese people of being racist. But when the government evicts black people, orders them into unnecessary quarantines, and forbids shops from serving them, this despicable racism needs to be condemned.

Democrats should really think twice about covering for China’s Communist Party.

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Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.