The federal government has said that the alleged maltreatment of Nigerians and other Africans in China was a result of poor communication.
This was disclosed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama in a press briefing with journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
In attendance at the briefing was the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Zhou Pingjian, and Mr. Onyeama said Nigerians and other Africans misunderstood what was happening in China because of lack of communication.
The Minister stated that if there was effective communication, the African consulates would have assisted the Chinese authorities in the action it was taking.
Onyeama explained that the situation was not quite what was seen in the earlier viral video which only portrayed the maltreatment of Nigerians in China, revealing that the Chinese government were attempting to contain some Africans (including a Nigerian restaurant owner) who came into the country and tested positive for COVID-19.
“And so, automatically demanded and insisted that they all be quarantined, with nobody allowed to come out in 14 days and if anybody came out from that quarantine, that they should not be allowed in if it was a hotel, back into that hotel or that residence.
“So, they put in very, very strict measure to try to contain this outbreak which to them at that time, clearly seemed to have been within that community. And so, they put in place, these very strict measures.
“Now, it was misinterpreted it appeared, by some of the Nigerians and Africans who could not understand why it seemed to be selective and targeting only themselves,” Onyeama said.
He further disclosed that after seeing a new video which had a different narrative, he immediately alerted the Nigerian Embassy and officials in Guangzhou at the consulate.
Onyeama said that the consulate confirmed that the narrative was true; the Chinese authorities were trying to quarantine a group of Africans who came into the nation and tested positive.
“But what our officials in China made clear was that the communication could and should have been better.
”If the authorities in Guangzhou had informed the African Consulates in Guangzhou that this was the situation and this were the measures they were putting in place, it could have become a joint effort.
“That mutual suspicion would not be there. That was not done and it led to counter-narrative and it exacerbated the situation.”
He stated that both the Nigerian and Chinese authorities were working closely to resolve the issue.