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McDonald's China apologises for banning African customers

McDonald's China apologises for banning African customers
Image: TK Kurikawa / Shutterstock.com

A global scandal has erupted after a McDonald's in the Chinese city of Guangzhou banned people of African descent from its restaurant. McDonald's China has apologised, but tensions in the city continue to rise.

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No longer welcome

Footage shows how a McDonald's subsidiary posted the following communication: "We have been informed that from now on black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant." Both in China and abroad, the video caused a lot of outrage, and McDonald's says it immediately (temporarily) closed that particular restaurant.

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The incident is part of a wider context of racial tensions that have been mounting in Guangzhou in recent weeks. Rumours have been circulating that the coronavirus was spreading among the African population, after which hundreds of Africans were evicted from hotels and apartments. Health workers have also reportedly been going door-to-door to test people of African origin, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms of coronavirus, have travelled or have been in contact with infected people.

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Diversity and inclusion training

As a city of trade and industry, Guangzhou is home to one of the largest African communities in China. Thousands of African merchants do business here, but discrimination has long been rife. The community fears that coronavirus could be used as an excuse to track down businessmen whose visas have expired. According to the BBC, the provincial government has responded to this concern by calling China and Africa good friends, partners and brothers.

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McDonald's said the ban that had been introduced at this particular restaurant was not representative of the chain's "inclusive values". In the meantime, the restaurant's employees have reportedly also received training on diversity and inclusion.

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