Chinese Consul General to South Africa Tang Zhongdong has denied allegations that Africans in China were mistreated.
Tang was speaking at a handover ceremony with Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku on Tuesday where 30 000 units of personal protective equipment (PPE) were donated.
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He made the comments in response to widespread media coverage of Africans in China who claimed they were subjected to forced Covid-19 testing, random isolation and evictions.
While China said it mostly curbed Covid-19 infections, a cluster of cases linked to the Nigerian community in Guangzhou allegedly sparked discrimination.
The US also accused China of xenophobia due the alleged treatment of Africans.
However, Tang said: “There is no discrimination. In China, we treat all the foreigners equally. There is no differential treatment.
“Chinese people always see the African people and African countries as brothers and friends,” Tang said.
He added that China would continue to work with South Africa to fight Covid-19.
Masuku said South Africans who were recently repatriated from China did not report any mistreatment.
Parts of China, such as Wuhan, have eased lockdown restrictions.
Masuku said South Africa should learn from this: “We need to learn from countries like China on how the measures should be enforced and how the measures should be respected by the citizens.”
In a statement issued later on Tuesday, the Chinese Embassy said Guangdong authorities attached “great importance” to issues African countries raised and are working to improve relations.
These include measures to provide health services without discrimination and provide “designated hotels for the accommodation of foreigners required to undergo medical observation at a reduced price or free of charge for those who are in financial difficulties”.
“We are confident that African friends would be received in a fair, just, cordial and friendly manner in China.
“The Chinese Foreign Ministry will stay in close communication with the Guangdong authorities and continue responding to the African side’s reasonable concerns and legitimate appeals,” the embassy said.
*This story has been updated with extra comment from a subsequent Chinese Embassy statement.
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