The European Business Council for Africa

Last month, social media became awash with footage of authorities in China maltreating African residents. In the city of Guangzhou, African migrants were evicted from apartments and denied access to restaurants. A McDonald’s put up a notice saying “black people cannot come in”.

The reaction across Africa was of widespread indignation. #ChinaMustExplain trended as some called on their governments to close Chinese embassies, deport Chinese nationals and recall their ambassadors from Beijing.

African governments scrambled to respond. Ministers made statements on twitter, held meetings, and insisted they would not tolerate such behaviour. Analysts wrote of a “unprecedented rupture” in Africa-China relations.

Just as quickly as it had started, however, the furore subsided. On 12 April, China’s foreign ministry made an announcement in which it did not explicitly apologise but insisted it had “zero tolerance for discrimination” and was “working promptly to improve their working method”. Shortly after, officials across Africa suggested they considered the matter resolved.

Nigeria’s foreign minister, for example, commended the Chinese government for its response to what he described as “unfortunate” incidents. Moussa Faki, Chair of the African Union Commission, explained that China’s foreign minister “reassured me of measures underway in Guangzhou to improve the situation of Africans”.


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