Foreigners in Guangzhou Protest Death of Expat

Foreigners living in China have been in the spotlight recently as the behavior of a few has inspired the government to crack down on the group as a whole. In Guangzhou, tensions have flared between expats and authorities when a foreigner was found dead after being detained following a dispute with a electric bicycle driver. The Guardian reports:

Guangzhou police said via its microblog account it had opened an investigation into the death of a foreign national on Monday. It said officers in Yuexiu district had been called because of a fight between a foreigner and an electric bicycle driver over a fare dispute.

Police took both men back to the police station to investigate, it said. But hours later the foreigner suddenly became unconscious and died despite officers summoning medical help.

In a separate post, the police said foreigners had blocked traffic on Guangyuan West Road – where the fight broke out – on Tuesday afternoon but were dispersed by officers.

They appealed to expatriates living in China to “abide by Chinese laws, not harm public interests or disrupt public order” and said police would investigate the death in strict accordance with the law.

Reports have said the victim is Nigerian. Deutsche Welle recently looked at the growing number of African immigrants in China, many of whom settle in Guangzhou:

Life is not always easy for Africans living in China. “Chinese people hate blacks,” Toyin says. “Very few taxis stop for me, for example. “It is also difficult to get through the red tape and to get papers for extended stays. Many Africans in China register as students as this is simpler and cheaper. There are also specialized agencies which charge up to $3,000 for visas, but these are often issued for six months only and do not allow multiple entries. Many foreigners end up in jail when their visas expire and recently the Chinese government announced it was going to step up checks even more.

Toyin and Kabir refuse to have their photos taken even though their papers are in order. They do not want to draw any unnecessary attention to themselves. Nevertheless, they say they like living in China. Kabir has married a Chinese woman and Toyin says she feels safer in China than in Nigeria. “There are so many attacks and so much violence in my country. Here I can go home at 3 in the morning. I love China because of that.”

Read more about foreigners in China and about Africa immigrants living there.