By Ayodeji Ake and Chiamaka Ozulumba
Nigerians and other Africans who reside in Guangzhou in China have complained of being evicted from their homes amid rising xenophobia in the country.
According to reports by the Cable News Network (CNN), Africans have been evicted from their homes by landlords and have been turned away from hotels, despite many claiming to have no recent travel history or known contact with COVID-19 patients.
Many Africans who spoke to the media in Guangzhou said they have been subjected to random testing for COVID-19, while those not evicted have been quarantined for 14 days in their homes, despite having no symptoms or contact with known patients.
A Nigerian trader, Nonso, who only wants to be addressed by his first name, said he and his girlfriend received a message from their landlord at 7 p.m on WeChat, a Chinese messaging app, saying they needed to vacate their flat by 8 p.m.
He said: “I told him I can’t vacate in one hour. I pay 1,500 yuan ($212) a month for his apartment in Nanhai on the outskirts of Guangzhou. I have lived in China for three years.”
He further explained that at 10 p.m., the landlord came to the flat and cut off the electricity and water supply.
“I asked them, what did I do? I have paid rent until September with two months’ deposit. They didn’t give me any reason,” he said.
Nonso called the police, who let them remain in the apartment for the night. But in the morning, Nonso said the landlord returned with a different officer, who said he had to leave. Nonso said he had struggled to find a new apartment for rent.
“We have contacted a lot of agents and none of them are leasing to black foreigners,” he said.
Social Media users have however condemned the maltreatment.
A Twitter user, @Suzy Q said: “This is what is currently happening to Africans in china. Where are our leaders?!? South Africans and other Africans on the continent are being discriminated against and attacked.”
Another Twitter user, @JohnMmabagaKE said: “I choose not to say ‘Africans’. I say ‘we’…the black race. Disadvantaged, disrespected, hated and reviled. But what the world forgets often is we are built out of resilience. They wish us out but we still thrive. We as Africans will blossom wherever we are”.
For @Kgothatso_, he said: “Nigerians must stop bothering other nations and must just stay home. Making themselves victims is beginning to be tiring.
@Oge_eke on Twitter said: “It is very unfair to speak about people you don’t know in such manner. If a Nigerian commits a crime doesn’t mean all of them commit crimes. Every country definitely has good and bad eggs”.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Zhao Lijian said has denied the allegation.
“I would like to emphasise that the Chinese government treats all foreigners in China equally, opposes any differentiated practices targeted at specific groups of people, and has zero tolerance for discriminatory words and actions,” he said.