19:55 GMT06 August 2020
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    American fast food company McDonald’s has apologized for a sign that appeared at one of its stores in southern China that said black people are banned from entering the establishment.

    A video of the notice saying black people were not allowed to enter the restaurant has been circulating online.

    Tensions between African people and locals in the Chinese city of Guangzhou have been high amid rumors in recent weeks that the COVID-19 coronavirus was spreading among Africans. Many African traders buy and sell goods in Guangzhou, which has a large African community, BBC reported.

    ​In an emailed statement to AFP, McDonald’s said that the sign was “not representative of [their] inclusive values” and confirmed that the sign had been removed. In addition, the Guangzhou restaurant was closed "immediately upon learning of an unauthorized communication to our guests."

    According to AFP, several Africans in the Chinese city have been forcibly evicted by police from their homes, banned from entering shops and restaurants and forced to undergo mass testing and arbitrary quarantines.

    Ambassadors and envoys from more than 20 African countries met with Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiadong on Monday to discuss the issues. Unidentified diplomatic sources also told AFP that several African countries had written a letter addressed to the foreign ministry, condemning the “discrimination and stigmatization of Africans” in China, but had not sent it yet.

    A foreign ministry statement obtained by AFP said Chen promised at the meeting to “lift the health management [measures] on African people, except the confirmed patients.” Chen also confirmed that the government in Guangdong Province, of which Guangzhou is the capital, is "constantly taking measures to improve" and make decisions "according to the principle of non-discrimination.”

    The US consulate in Guangzhou released an alert on Saturday urging African Americans not to travel there due to the xenophobia toward Africans. 

    According to Xinhua, 111 African nationals in Guangzhou have tested positive for COVID-19. Nineteen of those cases were imported. There are around 5,000 African nationals living in the city.

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