From an article by Brookings, China and Africa’s relationship developed unexpectedly during the COVID-19 pandemic. There was an unexpected break in the relationship. Since April, there were tons of reports and social media discussions about the eviction and maltreatment of Africans in Guangzhou.
This even caused official diplomatic protests from African countries and African Union. This was an unprecedented problem that never happened before.
This type of discrimination and racism on African migrants and residents in China damaged China’s policy agenda. China had paid tremendous effort to enhance its tie with Africa, but what happened recently damaged it terribly.
The origin of the break or conflict was a rise in imported COVID-19 cases
Having COVID-19 pandemic controlled domestically and giving the situation that the pandemic was terrible abroad, China started an entry ban and flight limit to stop the imported cases.
At the end of March and begin of April, foreign nationals who arrived before the entry ban became of the focus point of the public. They are the biggest challenge of China’s COVID-19 pandemic.
Local authorities pointed Africa as the largest source of imported COVID-19 cases in Guangzhou.
Among the 13 new local cases, 12 infections are traced back to imported cases from African after investigation.
As a result, many Chinese began to fear that other Africans stayed in China were dangerous. Local resentment, evictions, refusals of service, all those discriminations started to appear.
Suspected and confirmed African patients in China faced high financial and personal costs
Previously, discrimination in China against Africans was not rare. But issues happened during COVID-19 raised it into a new level.
Also, as African patients were mainly from undeveloped nations with low social economic status, the charge for mandatory quarantine and treatment may be unacceptable for them.
Also, many immigrants evade mandatory testing and inspections since they don’t have a legal visa status.
Thus, a conflict generated between Africans and China. While China put controlling the pandemic as priority, the financial and personal cost imposed on some Africans is intolerable for them.
Peacing the current conflict and fix Chinese-African relations may be difficult
Chinese government respond quickly to this issue, mentioned their zero-tolerance of racism and discrimination. But the discriminative actions continued.
It left us to think about how the Chinese will accept the African immigrants again after the pandemic. This type of problem is not just a single case. For some Western countries, foreign immigrants were one of the most vulnerable communities. This COVID-19 pandemic revealed their vulnerability.