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Racist incidents against Africans in China amid coronavirus crackdown spark outcry

Racist incidents in China spark outrage
Racist incidents in China fueled by coronavirus fears spark outrage 02:03

A sign displayed at a McDonald's in Guangzhou, China, read "black people are not allowed to enter" – just one instance of a growing problem in the city. Discrimination based on efforts to contain the coronavirus in China have sparked an outcry in Africa and other places around the world, as the U.S. grapples with its own spike in discrimination against Asians over fears of the disease.

Photos and videos out of Guangzhou show police detaining Africans over concern they could be spreading the coronavirus, CBS News' Ramy Inocencio reports. Images of Africans sleeping on the street after being evicted from their homes have also incited backlash. 

Chinese officials maintain that racism does not exist in the country. 

"This is denial... of course there is racism," said professor Adams Bodomo, founding director of the University of Vienna's Global African Diaspora Studies.

Bodomo, who is one of the world's leading experts on China-Africa relations, said Beijing was "shooting itself in the foot" by meeting racism accusations out of Guangzhou with denials. 

China's problem with racism is not limited to those with dark skin.

One European woman said she and her family were split apart at a restaurant in China, with her Chinese husband allowed inside while she had to remain outside. 

"My husband is inside, eating lunch," she said. "I have to stay outside, because I am a foreigner."

Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of the California-based Chinese for Affirmative Action, said her group "vehemently" condemns reports of racism coming out of China, "just in the way that we condemn the kind of anti-Asian racism that we're experiencing here in the United States."

"You're no more likely to carry the virus or be responsible for the virus based on your race, ethnicity or national origin," she said. 

The number of reported crimes against Asian-Americans has been rising in the U.S., with more than 1,700 instances reported since March. A video that sparked outrage months ago appears to show an Asian-American woman being targeted for not wearing a mask.

"It's really important to not lose hope and to have faith in our humanity," Choi said. 

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