McDonald’s came under fire this week after one of its branches in China displayed a sign saying that “black people are not allowed to enter.”
In a widely circulated video on Twitter, the sign was put up at a restaurant in Guangzhou, in China’s southern Guangdong province.
McDonald’s said in a statement to NBC News that the sign is “not representative of our inclusive values” and was removed.
The restaurant has since been temporarily shut down to “further educate managers and employees on our values, which includes serving all members of the communities in which we operate,” McDonald’s said.
Racial tensions between Africans and locals in Guangzhou have escalated since Chinese officials recently warned about the rising number of imported coronavirus cases.
Despite many reporting having had no recent travel history or no known contact with COVID-19 patients, hundreds of Africans in Guangzhou have been forced to quarantine for 14 days, evicted from their homes, and denied services at restaurants and hotels, local Africans told CNN.
Guangzhou is an industrial city that hosts one of the largest African communities in China and serves as an industrial hub for African traders who mainly hold short-term business visas, traveling to China several times a year.
African nations and the U.S. have decried the racist treatment of Africans in the city, The Associated Press reported.
In an April 11 statement titled “Discrimination Against African-Americans in Guangzhou,” the U.S. Consulate General advised African Americans “to avoid the Guangzhou metropolitan area until further notice.”
The chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, told AP that he had summoned the Chinese ambassador to the union, Liu Yuxi, to express “extreme concern” over the reports of discrimination.
On April 13, the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe released a statement on Twitter, saying that Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Faki had a phone call addressing the racist treatment of Africans in China.
Wang was committed “to protecting the health and safety of all Chinese and foreign nationals in China and treating them alike,” the statement said. “China is against any differential treatment targeting any specific group of people.”