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McDonald's apologizes after a restaurant in China bans black customers

A McDonald's restaurant in China has come under fire after it was accused of banning black customers from entering. A sign at the Guangzhou eatery that read "from now on black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant" has been circulating on social media.

Guangzhou is home to one of China's largest African communities and is a destination for many African traders. With the threat of the coronavirus, racial tensions have flared in the metropolitan area between the local Chinese residents and the predominantly African expat community.

In response to the sign at its China fast-food chain, McDonald's Corporation issued a statement saying, "this is not representative of our inclusive values."

"As a brand, as a company and as more than 2.2 million people serving nearly 120 countries around the world, this is not representative of our inclusive values. Immediately upon learning of an unauthorized communication to our guests at a restaurant in Guangzhou, we immediately removed the communication and temporarily closed the restaurant," the statement read.

The company said that during the temporary closure, they will use the time "to further educate managers and employees on our values, which includes serving all members of the communities in which we operate."

The U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou has warned U.S. citizens of the escalated scrutiny and discrimination of foreign nationals in the region which include orders by the police for bars and restaurants to not serve people who appear to be of African descent. 

The xenophobic reaction to COVID-19 also includes some businesses and hotels refusing to do business with African Americans, according to the Consulate. For anyone with "African contacts," regardless of whether you have been quarantined or whether you have traveled, local officials are conducting mandatory tests for the novel coronavirus.

Due to this targeted response, the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou advises African Americans "to avoid the Guangzhou metropolitan area until further notice."

In the past week, members of various African governments have shared their outrage at the recent treatment of its citizens in China.

Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of Nigeria's House of Representatives, called for "an official explanation for treating Nigerians in such a manner."

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Ghana's minister for foreign affairs and regional integration, said that she highly condemns the "ill-treatment and racial discrimination" of African nationals in China.

In response to the outcry, Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission said on Monday that he spoke to China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who reassured him of measures underway in Guangzhou to improve the situation of Africans there.

On Tuesday, China responded to the U.S. Consulate's warning for black foreign nationals in Guangzhou.

"As a response to U.S. attempt to undermine China-Africa relations, I would say our friendship with Africa is unbreakable," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

"The Chinese government has attached high importance to the health & safety of foreign nationals in China," he continued. "We treat them equally and reject any discriminatory measures in our outbreak response."

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