Inhumane Treatment Of Nigerians In China Threatens China-Nigeria Diplomatic Ties

As Nigeria battles with the COVID-19 pandemic internally, the federal government is also concerned by the economic, health, and social conditions and well-being of its citizens abroad.

For some days now, a viral video has been paraded across different social media platforms portraying an ugly picture of Chinese authorities maltreating Nigerians in their country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The said video has created a lot of concern for Nigerians abroad, especially for their lives and property. This has created a lot of agitations and reaction from Nigerians at home and abroad.

In recent times, the leadership of the House of Representatives has expressed displeasure over the inhuman treatment meted out on some Nigerians by the Chinese authorities in Beijing. On April 10 2020, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and a host of speakers from the House of Representatives met with the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian at the National Assembly to reiterate their concern and sadness towards such ill-treatment.

The Speaker confronted the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria with a viral video in which the Nigerian Consul General in Beijing was seen challenging Chinese officials over the maltreatment of his fellow brothers and sisters. In the viral media reports/videos from Beijing, Chinese authorities were seen forcing Nigerians out of their houses and hotels, rounded up and their passports seized without prior notification to the Nigerian Embassy by the Chinese police.

The viral video also showed some Nigerians being forced into another 14-day quarantine after the initial 14 days they had spent for the same purpose over the COVID-19 pandemic in China. Nigerians home and abroad are requesting for an official explanation for treating Nigerians in such a manner.

However,  Gbajabiamila asked the Chinese Ambassador if he has taken up the issue with the host home country, the Speaker said:

“If the diplomatic relationships between our two countries are for the mutual benefits of our citizens, then there must be respect for our citizens, and we should not compromise it.

As a government, we will not allow Chinese or other nationals to be maltreated just as we will not allow Nigerians to be maltreated in other countries. The way you treat your citizens, we expect that’s how you’ll treat others; will not tolerate our citizens breaking your laws, but the crime of one citizen cannot be used to stigmatize the whole country.” 

The speaker said the House will expect a feedback from the Ambassador as soon as possible and before Tuesday next week and according to him it is better, they nip it in the bud so that it does not escalate to another level.

In his response, Ambassador Pingjian said though he has not been officially informed about the details of the incidents, he would take it up with the home government. In his words:

“We take our relationship with Nigeria very seriously. Until we receive a full report from back home, I cannot act, but I can assure you it is not a policy issue. We treat everyone equally, but during the implementation of the COVID-19 measures in China, it is possible for some incidents.” 

To the digress a little a bit for the matter in hand the Gbajabiamila also sought to understand the specific mandate of the Chinese medical team that arrived Nigeria on Wednesday and if they are on quarantine and in response the Ambassador confirmed that indeed the Chinese medical personnel are in full quarantine and ready to observe all protocols as stipulated by the Nigerian government.

Adewale Daniel Omojowo
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