African diplomats have threatened to shut down their consulates following the racist attacks and maltreatment of Nigerians and other Africans by Chinese officials in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province.
The African Consuls-General in a protest letter to the Chinese Government noted that Africans were being denied hotel accommodation upon arrival in Guangzhou, adding that they were also subjected to an additional 14-day quarantine at various isolation centres after being cleared and issued an appropriate certificate of release by the Centralised Quarantine and Medical Observation.
They warned Beijing that their home countries might retaliate against Chinese nationals if the stigmatisation of Nigerians and other Africans was not speedily resolved.
A viral video had shown some Nigerians in Guangzhou being evicted from their homes and hotels and chased down the streets by Chinese policemen.
The Nigerians complained that they were placed under compulsory 14-day quarantine, adding that despite testing negative for COVID-19, the authorities insisted that the quarantine period would be extended by another two weeks, a directive they resisted.
The Chinese officials were also said to have confiscated the passports of the Nigerians.
A video of Mr Razaq Lawal, head of the Nigerian consulate in Guangzhou, tackling a Chinese official for seizing the passports of some Nigerians later surfaced on the Internet.
Following the incident, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had summoned the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian, twice in a week to express the displeasure of the Federal Government on the development.
The minister said the government would hasten the evacuation of Nigerians in China and also demand compensation from the Chinese authorities.
But taking up the matter with Beijing, the African diplomats accused China of discriminating against their nationals, warning that the situation could degenerate if not properly handled.
In line with Article 5 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963, they called on the Chinese Foreign Affairs Office to intervene and address the complaints.
The Consuls demanded a prompt reversal of Guangdong’s policy on “the selective attack on Africans as well as unannounced visits to homes after the working hours.”
They also asked the Chinese authorities to direct hotels to accommodate Africans and stop forcible eviction of the nationals from their apartments.
The diplomats stated, “In the consequence that the issues are not properly resolved promptly, the African Consulates-General will be left with no option but to communicate to our home country the racial bias and discrimination against Africans in China.
“We would also bring the same to the attention of the international community-United Nations, International Criminal Court, International Court of Arbitration, World Health Organisation, Amnesty International, African Union, among others.
“We would have no option but to retaliate the same ill-treatment meted out on our nationals to the Chinese nationals in our various countries; close all the African Consulates in Guangzhou until further notice and engage in general street protest by the African Consulates-General and nationals,” the diplomats warned.