NGO denounces discrimination against foreigners in China, Portuguese among the victims
“The central government has a duty to protect everyone (…) This racism must be stopped,” HRW’s deputy director for Asia told Lusa today, adding that the non-governmental organization (NGO) has received several complaints from foreigners barred in various services and who are suffering xenophobic attacks on the streets and on social networks in the country.
China has been registering fewer and fewer cases of the disease for several weeks and these have, in most cases, come from abroad, the so-called imported cases. On the contrary, the rest of the world, especially outside Asia, has seen the number of infected people rise exponentially.
Mistrust of foreigners comes for precisely that reason, explained Phil Robertson, adding that these incidents are heightened because neither the central government nor the provincial authorities are taking action to prevent such behavior.
In the Chinese province of Guangdong, adjacent to Macau, two Portuguese, who asked Lusa not to be identified, reported several discriminatory incidents that they have been subjected to.
One of the Portuguese said he was prevented from renting sports venues for the simple reason of being foreign. The two complain of various discriminatory behaviors. Among some examples, they say that the Chinese purposefully leave the elevator when they enter.
Although the most serious cases did not happen to them, the two tell several reports that they have received from close friends, such as the impediment to enter the store of the American multinational Walmart in the neighboring city of Macau, Zhuhai, or of others who were expelled from a hotel.
Questioned by Lusa today, the Portuguese consul in the Chinese city of Canton said he was aware of discriminatory cases towards foreigners, but guaranteed that he had not been reported by Portuguese citizens.
“The consulate sent a questionnaire to all citizens registered here asking if they have been having problems,” said André Sobral Cordeiro. Of the 203 Portuguese registered at the consulate, only 20 responded and none of them reported having suffered discriminatory behavior.
“There have, in fact, been some situations [discriminatory towards foreigners], but in relation to Portuguese citizens, they have to tell us”, he stressed, appealing to the Portuguese to communicate these situations to him so that the consulate can respond and intervene. “Otherwise, we have no way of knowing”, he reinforced.
André Sobral Cordeiro also explained that “a common action” is being discussed among several States on how they will act, adding that at that time the community will be informed.
The group that has suffered the most xenophobia is the African. Photographs and videos broadcast last week on social media showed young people and families of Africans sleeping on the street in Guangzhou, southern China, after being forced to leave houses and hotels by the authorities, and banned from entering shops and in restaurants.
As a result, several African governments have called on Chinese ambassadors in their respective countries to express concern, while African ambassadors in China have written a joint letter to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the United Nations Human Rights Council. United to denounce the “discrimination and stigmatization” of Africans in Canton.
“Xenophobia and racism have no place in a civilized country,” said the HRW official.
Likewise, when the situation of the pandemic was reversed (with more cases in China than in the rest of the world), Beijing criticized xenophobic and discriminatory acts towards Asians. “You can’t look away now,” said Phil Robertson.
Globally, the covid-19 pandemic has already claimed more than 157,000 deaths and infected more than 2.2 million people in 193 countries and territories. More than 502,000 patients were considered cured.
The disease is transmitted by a new coronavirus detected in late December in Wuhan, a city in central China.