McDonald’s has issued an apology after a sign in one of its restaurants in southern China said that black people were banned from entering, according to CTV News. The incident gave rise to outrage online following reports of Africans being treated with discrimination in the city.
The sign says, "We’ve been informed that from now on black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant."
Since the announcement of a high number of coronavirus cases in a neighbourhood containing a large migrant population, tensions have been high between police and Africans in Guangzhou.
As the situation became increasingly tense, posts of the McDonald’s sign banning black people from the restaurant were widely shared online.
An apology was issued by the chain saying that the sign was “not representative of our values.”
In a statement, the restaurant noted that the sign had been removed and the restaurant in Guangzhou was closed “immediately upon learning of an unauthorized communication to our guests.”
Multiple Africans told Agence France-Presse that police forcibly evicted them from their residences and they were unable to receive service at some restaurants and shops.
The outrage caused African ambassadors and envoys to meet with Chen Ziaodong, the assistant foreign minister, to discuss the situation on Monday.
During the meeting, Chen promised to “lift the health management (measures) on African people, except the confirmed patients,” according to a statement released by the foreign ministry.
He noted that the Guangdong government is constantly trying to improve and act “according to the principle of non-discrimination.”
According to diplomatic sources who spoke with AFP, a joint letter was written by African countries to the foreign ministry expressing complete disapproval of the “discrimination and stigmatization of Africans” in China, though it had not yet been sent.
On Saturday, an alert was issued by Guangzhou’s U.S. consulate advising African-Americans against travelling to the city because of the ongoing conflict. Chinese authorities were accused of “xenophobia” toward African people.
The U.S. was accused of using the conflict to “drive a wedge” between Africa and China, by Beijing.
In Guangzhou, 111 African nationals have tested positive for coronavirus, which includes 19 imported cases, according to the executive vice mayor of the city.
He added that 4,553 Africans have been tested in the city since April 4. This suggests that every African national in the city has been tested as city officials noted that 4,553 is the total population of registered Africans.