Friday, February 03, 2023
Africans in China left homeless amid rising xenophobia as China fights a second wave of coronavirus

The African community in Guangzhou is on edge after widespread accounts were shared on social media of people being left homeless this week, as China's warnings against imported coronavirus cases stoke anti-foreigner sentiment.

In the southern Chinese city, Africans have been evicted from their homes by landlords and turned away from hotels, despite many claiming to have no recent travel history or known contact with Covid-19 patients.

Africans living in Guangzhou many of whom told of the same experiences: being left without a home, being subject to random testing for Covid-19, and being quarantined for 14 days in their homes, despite having no symptoms or contact with known patients.

Health authorities in Guangdong ​province and the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

The move comes amid heightened media coverage of the so-called second wave of coronavirus cases, emanating from infections outside of China. Earlier this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged authorities to carefully watch for imported cases from ​other countries, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Guangzhou has long had the largest African community in China. Because many Africans in the city have short-term business visas, they travel into China several times a year, making it difficult to calculate the size of the African population the city. But in 2017, approximately 320,000 Africans entered or left China through Guangzhou, according to Xinhua.

A report on April 4 alleged that a Nigerian national with Covid-19 had attacked a Chinese nurse who tried to stop him leaving an isolation ward at a Guangzhou hospital​. The report was shared widely on social media, and local Africans CNN spoke to say a racist backlash against the African community ​followed.

Then on April 7, Guangzhou authorities said five Nigerians had tested positive for Covid-19.

Fearing a cluster among the African community, Guangzhou authorities upgraded the risk level of Yuexiu and Baiyun, the areas home to the city's two African enclaves, from low to medium, state-owned Global Times reported.

​The local government Tuesday reported 111 imported cases of Covid-19 in Guangzhou, with 28 patients from the UK and 18 from the US. But in interviews with CNN, Americans and British nationals in Guangzhou said they had not heard reports of forced testing, home evictions and additional quarantine measures being imposed on members of their communities.

The area around Guangzhou is a manufacturing heartland, where many Africans buy cheap goods to sell back home.

Chuk returned seven days before China closed its borders to most foreign nationals, but upon arrival, he says he was told that he needed to enter government quarantine at a hotel for two weeks.

As a trader, Chuk travels frequently, and is accustomed to staying in hotels during his time in China.

But on Tuesday, Chuk says that when he was released, along with about 15 other Africans, with a clean bill of health, they effectively became homeless.


The five Nigerians confirmed to have Covid-19 had been to eight restaurants, nine hotels and 12 public places before testing positive, according to the state-run Global Times.

Since then, Africans across Guangdong province have reported being tested in their homes, despite having no recent travel history or contact with a Covid-19 patient.

Maano Gaasite, an international student from Botswana at a Guangzhou university, said that at 3 p.m. on Sunday she received a WeChat message from her course administrator saying she needed to be tested, despite having not left China for over six months.

Earlier this year, when Beijing proposed changes to its immigration laws around permanent residency, a backlash emerged on Chinese social media site Weibo against Africans. Many of the comments have since been removed from the platform.


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