Other Africans said the community had been subject to mass COVID-19 testing even though many had not left China recently, and people had been placed under arbitrary quarantine at home or in hotels.
China has banned foreign nationals from entering the country, and many travelers are being sent into 14-day quarantines either in their own accommodation or at centralized facilities.
Thiam, an exchange student from Guinea, said police ordered him to stay home on Tuesday even after he tested negative for COVID-19 and told officers he had not left China in almost four years.
He believes the measures are specifically and unfairly targeting Africans.
“All the people I’ve seen tested are Africans. Chinese are walking around freely but if you’re black you can’t go out,” he said.
The US State Department has issued an alert advising African Americans, or those with potential contact with African nationals, to avoid Guangzhou.
Then on Saturday the department issued a sharp criticism of China over how it treats Africans.
“It’s unfortunate but not surprising to see this kind of xenophobia towards Africans by Chinese authorities,” a State Department spokesperson said.
The US in recent weeks has denounced what it calls Beijing’s lack of transparency at the start of the coronavirus epidemic, which was first detected in late 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan. American officials say the delay resulted in thousands of deaths around the world.
Despite a recent truce in the US-Chinese war of words, skirmishes have continued between the two world powers, already locked in a long-term strategic confrontation.