‘Unacceptable’: Nigeria condemns treatment of citizens in China

Foreign minister says Chinese authorities must act after footage emerged of Nigerians discriminated against.

Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama briefs diplomats on the country''s measures to tackle the coronavirus in Abuja
Onyeama said it appeared Nigerians were being discriminated against at hotels and restaurants and being stigmatised as supposed carriers of COVID-19 [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]

Nigeria has condemned the “extremely distressing” and “unacceptable” footage appearing to show its citizens in China maltreated because of the coronavirus pandemic.     

In a meeting with Chinese Ambassador Zhou Pingjian in his office in Abuja on Tuesday, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said:  “There were videos circulating on social media of very disturbing scenes and incidents involving Nigerians in the city of Guangzhou.”

Onyeama said it appeared that Nigerians were being discriminated against at hotels and restaurants and being stigmatised as supposed carriers of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

“We saw images of Nigerians in the streets with their possessions and this was, of course, extremely distressing for us at home,” he said.

He said the situation was “unacceptable” to the Nigerian government and its people, and needed “immediate action” from the Chinese authorities.    

The Chinese ambassador said Beijing was taking the issues the minister raised “very seriously” and said China would continue to foster cordial ties with Nigeria.    

The conversation followed accusations of discrimination in the southern city of Guangzhou linked to the coronavirus pandemic.


Having brought under control the original outbreak centred on the city of Wuhan, Beijing is now concerned about imported cases and is stepping up scrutiny of foreigners coming into the country and tightening border controls. 

And while Beijing has denied discrimination, Africans in China say they have become targets of suspicion and subjected to forced evictions, arbitrary quarantines and mass coronavirus testing.

Earlier on Tuesday, US fast-food chain McDonald’s apologised for a sign in one of its restaurants in Guangzhou telling black people they were banned from entering.

On Saturday, the African Union expressed “extreme concern” about the situation in Guangzhou and called on the Chinese government to take immediate corrective measures.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies