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Africa’s “all-weather friend” gets outright condemnation over alleged Coronavirus racism

Bongani Siziba

JOHANNESBURG – African Union chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa and his counterpart at the Commission of AU, Moissa Faki Mahamat, have expressed dismay at the alleged racial stigma directed at Africans in China over the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement Sunday, Mr Ramaphosa, who is also the President of South Africa, said the forceful testing and quarantining of Africans for Covid 19 smacked of inhuman treatment which flew in the face of Africa’s otherwise good relations with the Asian economic giant.

“Reports of these alleged actions are inconsistent with the excellent relationship between China and Africa dating back during the decolonization struggle in Africa,” said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa’s statement comes after AU Commission chairperson Mr Mousa Faki Mahamat earlier summoned the Chinese ambassador in Adis Ababa to raise similar concerns on the matter.

Some Africans in the commercial hub of China also expressed their concerns.

Chairman of the Uganda-China Forum, Benedict Kanjako, said he had witnessed the attacks.

” l appeal to the African embassies in China to initiate talks with the Chinese authorities about Africans staying in China illegally, because this is the section that will be affected more in the inspection,” said Kanjako.

“Chinese communitity please do isolation and testing with love and reason, we have come a long way and have enjoyed our relationship, let not coronavirus separate us.”

In a statement on microblogging site, Twitter Saturday, the Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe dismissed the accusations that his country was deliberately targeting Africans and suggested the racial discrimination and harassment issue was being sensationalized.

” It is harmful to sensationalize isolated incidents,” read part of the statement.

“China treats all individuals in the country, Chinese and foreigners are alike as equals.”

Beijing is yet to issue a formal statement on the matter.

Last week, the country reported 114 imported cases of Covid-19, of which 16 were Africans.

In response to this, the Chinese government is alleged to have launched a mandatory testing and self quarantine for anyone with African contact.

China has ended its more than two months lockdown in Wuhan, the city where covid-19 infections began.

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