• The Embassy through Ambassador Wu Peng on Friday said it has been trying to find out what happened with regards to viral videos and photos.
• The Ambassador says as far as he knows, those videos did not tell the whole story and most people shown in the videos or pictures are not Kenyans.
The Chinese Embassy in Kenya has refuted claims that Kenyans are been discriminated against in Guangzhou and Beijing.
The embassy, through Ambassador Wu Peng, on Friday said it has been trying to find out what happened with regards to viral videos and photos showing individuals of African origin being mistreated.
This comes after reports Africans had been denied access to essential services amid a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
In a story ran by Citizen TV, a group of people believed to be Africans, including Kenyans, are seen being driven out of their homes by Chinese police officers.
In the story, several Kenyans complained of how they had been forced to sleep in the cold after they were thrown out of their houses.
The Kenyans said they had not been given any explanation as to why they had been thrown out.
"All we have seen is posters indicating this community does not allow foreigners especially of the black origin, throw them out immediately," one of them told Citizen TV.
They said those who have been locked out of their houses were being forced into a 14-day quarantine in an unknown location.
According to them, for four days they had been denied access to essential services.
But Ambassador Peng said the matter started when a few Africans, who are not Kenyans, arrived in Guangzhou in March and did not follow the local quarantine regulations.
“As far as I know, those videos did not tell the whole story, and secondly most people shown in the videos or pictures are not Kenyans. China has zero tolerance for discrimination and treat all foreign nationals equally,” Peng said.
He added, “Instead they went out gathering without masks. Later they showed symptoms of infection, but they have already transmitted to the community”.
According to him, since then, Guangzhou required all foreigners to do the testing and strictly observe social distancing rules.
To this effect, Peng said health authorities and police in Guangzhou have worked together going house by house and in this process, some Africans, who don’t have legal permits and were unwilling to present their identity documents while others who didn’t want to follow the requirement and go testing, confronted the officials and even police.
“As we all know, the pandemic has been the most serious global challenge since the second world war. China has been hit hard. It took so many painstaking efforts for China to control the spread and Chinese people have locked themselves at home for more than two months, so it’s the aspiration of the whole nation to stop the pandemic from coming back,” Peng said.
The ambassador said apart from talking to the government, the embassy has been in touch with several Kenyans in Guangzhou.
"There’s a lady who helped us find out more information about the situation. We helped communicate to the local government, the hospital where she volunteered to get herself tested. She’s now staying in her apartment,” he said.
Peng said as far as the woman knows, most Kenyans are able to stay wherever they are.
“She has been talking to a few friends who are quarantined in the apartments and the community workers will help them buy food. We have also helped another Kenyan lady to talk to her landlord because they have language barriers. We will continue to offer support,” he said.
Peng said Chinese government including Guangzhou municipal government, which is facing huge pressure with a lot of international arrivals, has promptly adjusted the quarantine and prevention and control measures for foreign nationals entering into China.
He said these are temporary measures that China has to take in response to the current situation.
“Every person, no matter Chinese or foreigners, should strictly abide by the law and local regulations, and cooperate with the local authorities. This is to protect the health and safety of themselves and others,” he said.
Peng said in the meantime, despite the fact that many Africans in Guangzhou don’t have legal permits, and a few of them didn’t cooperate with local authorities on quarantine or testing, they will pay great attention to the occasional incidents and misunderstandings in this process, and relevant authorities will improve working methods.
“This is why the Embassy has been communicating to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Guangzhou government, pushing for a better solution to this matter so that friendship and mutual respect don’t get undermined,” he said.
He said the good news is that Guangdong provincial government has discussed the issue seriously and asked Guangzhou to take immediate action to protect legitimate right of Africans.
Earlier on China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian dismissed the claims of racial discrimination against individuals of black origin in the two cities.
Lijian said all foreign nationals within China are treated equally.
"I'd like to stress that we treat all foreign nationals equally in China. We reject differential treatment, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination".
Lijian said China pays high attention to the incidents and misunderstanding occurred in this process.
"We urge relevant authorities to improve their work, hope all foreigners in China will strictly observe local anti-epidemic regulations, cooperate with and support us in fighting the virus," he said.
According to him, China's most urgent task is to prevent the spread of the coronavirus from both within and without the country.
"To meet this goal, we need understanding, support and cooperation from both Chinese and foreign nationals," Lijian said.