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Wake up call on Chinese racism

The actions of Chinese officials in Guangzhou exposed them as really not different from apartheid South Africa

COMMENT | HILDA MUKIIBI |  Professor Makau Mutua, the maverick Kenyan academic, columnist and Chair of Kenya Human Rights Commission drew praise and consternation in equal measure recently when he called on the Kenyan government and people to treat the Chinese the same way Chinese racists treated Africans in the last few weeks in Guangzhou city in Guangdong province.

Although we should applaud China for supporting many projects in Uganda and Africa, recent events proved that there is more than meets the eye in our dalliance with the Asian dragon.

Human Rights Watch in recent days released a report saying black Africans faced terrible forms of racism in China as that country combats the corona virus pandemic.

So have the Chinese been nice all along and only became racist due to Covid 19?

Mutua should know better because in Kenya they actually have a case of a Chinese manager who was deported from the country for referring to President Uhuru Kenyatta as a “monkey” and a Chinese restaurant in Nairobi had to be closed for refusing to serve blacks!

Prof. Mutua said “Kenya should retaliate by publicly and loudly expelling a good number of Chinese citizens to register its anger over the Chinese forced evictions, or ethnic cleansing, of Kenyans in Wuhan. This is the only way to teach the Chinese a lesson. Then Kenya must start unwinding its unconscionable enslavement”.

Of course when stories emerged that Ugandans, Kenyans and Africans were being thrown out into the streets and out of supermarkets and restaurants in vile measures amounting to racial profiling, Kenyans were not surprised.

For years China and African leaders have promoted the narrative that China was Africa’s best friend, without questioning Beijing’s motives for seeking a foothold in Africa.

We were made to believe that as America and Europe gradually limits its involvement in Africa, China was filling the void with funding for infrastructure and loans without strings attached. It has of course done so with Chinese retailers and petty traders invading the African markets and repatriating profits back home.

There’s palpable pressure mounting from small scale African traders about this phenomenon. China’s racist behavior towards Africans in the last few weeks will make this resentment even more profound.

But the actions of Chinese officials in Guangzhou created the greatest diplomatic embarrassment that will take China years to correct and simply exposed the Chinese as really not different from apartheid South Africa. So it is no longer some Europeans and white Americans that are stereotypical racists but China has joined the list, in the worst possible fashion.

Chinese managers at a Guangzhou outlet of the American food chain McDonald’s had even the temerity in this day and age to post notices that they don’t serve blacks! This was last seen in apartheid South Africa!

The Chinese government and their embassies in different African countries have been trying to do damage control but racist actions are difficult to wish away with diplomatic pronouncements.

On social media in Uganda and many African countries people have been calling on Africans to pay back the Chinese in similar coins but there have been restraint from Africans and African governments. The corona virus which elicited this racist behavior from China may have damaged Beijing’s standing in the eyes of Africans almost irreparably.

I do not support the views by many that Africans should discriminate against Chinese in our midst. Let us respond to the abominable behavior of Chinese people and officials in Guangzhou, by showing them that we will not treat Chinese the way they did to Africans.

China is fully and tightly controlled by the Communist Party of China and I cannot imagine that the racist behavior of government officials in other provinces was not sanctioned or supported by the government in Beijing. At least now we know the Chinese for what they really are, unless they prove us wrong.


Hilda Mukiibi is a concerned globalist and senior citizen


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