McDonald’s Mandates ‘Diversity Training’ for Chinese Branch that Banned Black Customers

FILE - In this Thursday, April 30, 2015, file photo, customers buy sundae cones at a McDonald's restaurant in Beijing. McDonald's Corp. said Thursday, March 31, 2016, it plans to open 1,500 new restaurants in China, South Korea and Hong Kong as it looks to faster-growing markets to help drive …
Andy Wong/AP Photo

Although the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) insists the many reported incidents of blatant racism against Africans living in China during the coronavirus pandemic are merely “misunderstandings,” McDonald’s Corporation announced on Monday that it has temporarily closed a restaurant in Guangzhou that explicitly refused to serve black customers and posted a sign declaring they were not “allowed to enter.”

“We’ve been informed that from now on black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant. For the sake of your health consciously notify the local police for medical isolation, please understand the inconvenience caused,” read the English lettering on the sign, as captured in a viral video.

“Immediately upon learning of an unauthorized communication to our guests at a restaurant in Guangzhou, we immediately removed the communication and temporarily closed the restaurant,” a McDonald’s Corporation spokesman told the Hong Kong Free Press on Monday.

“As part of the temporary closure of this restaurant, we will take the opportunity to further educate managers and employees on our values, which includes serving all members of the communities in which we operate,” the spokesman added.

Another statement from McDonald’s confirmed that at least one African customer was refused service at the Guangzhou location. The staff is currently undergoing mandatory training on “diversity and inclusion,” and McDonald’s stressed that all customers are welcome at all of its locations in China — assuming they pass a “body temperature checkup” and have a clean “health QR code issued by the local government.”

The QR code in question is generated by a mandatory smartphone application that rates Chinese citizens on their current health and controls whether they are allowed into various public venues.

The discrimination against Africans in Guangzhou was driven by rumors that Nigerians living in the city’s “Little Africa” district were spreading a new wave of coronavirus infections. Several African nations have lodged formal complaints with the Chinese government about discrimination against their citizens.

Sky News noted on Tuesday that the U.S. consulate in China has cautioned African-Americans to avoid the Guangzhou area, which has one of China’s largest populations of African visitors and residents. The consulate said it has received other reports of establishments refusing to serve black patrons, plus mandatory testing and quarantines imposed on people with “African contacts” by Chinese officials.

The BBC noted on Tuesday that Africans felt increasingly unwelcome in China even before the pandemic began. 

“The African community in Guangzhou has been dwindling in recent years. There were once thought to be hundreds of thousands from the continent conducting business in the city, but today the number has fallen to just thousands,” the BBC’s correspondent reported.

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