China foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Monday urged the U.S. to end racial discrimination following the death of George Floyd.
“Black lives matter,” Zhao said at a press conference. “Their human rights need to be guaranteed. Racial discrimination against minorities is a chronic sickness in American society.”
Zhao continued, “We hope the U.S. government can take substantial measures and fulfill its obligations to the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, so as to safeguard and guarantee the legitimate rights of minority groups.”
China itself has seen an uptick of racism against Africans, especially in the city of Guangzhou which has a large population of African residents. After five Nigerian residents of the city tested positive for coronavirus in April, a McDonald’s branch posted a sign banning black people and many Africans were evicted from their homes or hotels.
The U.S. State Department sent out an advisory on April 13 warning African-Americans to avoid the city, noting that police had instructed bars and restaurants not to serve customers of African origin. African-Americans in Guangzhou have since been refused service at businesses and some have been forced into mandatory quarantines despite testing negative for coronavirus, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.
China maintains extensive relations with African Union nations, where it has invested billions of dollars in infrastructure projects. Following the events in Guangzhou, a group of African ambassadors in China condemned the “stigmatization and discrimination” faced by residents of the city.
On Tuesday, Zhao said China supports African Union nations in the wake of the George Floyd protests.
“China stands with the African [nations] in their just cause and will work with the African [nations] to firmly oppose all forms of racial discrimination, including inciting discrimination and hate speech,” Zhao told reporters.