Visa Issue Sparks First Reported Protest by Foreigners in China

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In the below story, South China Morning Post covers a protest after a Nigerian immigrant jumped to his death trying to evade police in a Guangzhou immigration raid.

What’s particularly fascinating is that the Post calls this the first protest by foreigners in China.

The protesters appear to have been complaining that police heavy-handedness led to the death and more generally about frequent visa checks by police in their neighborhood in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic in October.

There are some 20,000 African immigrants living in Guangzhou, the largest group of foreigners in the city. They are predominantly merchants and are a sign of rising trade between China and Africa.

China Daily also has coverage.


Africans protest in Guangzhou after Nigerian feared killed fleeing visa check
South China Morning Post

A Nigerian is believed to have fallen to his death in Guangzhou yesterday trying to escape a police visa check. His apparent death triggered an unprecedented protest by up to 200 angry Africans, who surrounded a police station.

The protesters carried Emmanul Egisimba to Kuangquan police station to demand an explanation. Witnesses said the clothes trader suffered fatal injuries when he leapt from the second floor of a building.

At least six witnesses confirmed to the South China Morning Post that the man had died, and the Post was shown video of him falling and of the man motionless on the ground with blood pouring from his head. However, last night city police claimed there had not been a death.

After Mr Egisimba was taken to a nearby hospital by members of the crowd, the protesters blocked the entrance to the police station and stopped traffic on Guangyuan Xi Road.

Most of the protesters were Nigerians. Some 100 security guards and police – some in riot gear – guarded the police station, but there were no clashes and by about 6pm, four hours after the man’s fall, the crowd began leaving and the road reopened.

A Nigerian who would only give his first name, James, said six plain-clothes police officers had gone to the Tangqi Foreign Trade Clothes Plaza in central Guangzhou to check visas at 2pm.

Mr Egisimba and another Nigerian man, surnamed Ndubuisi, began to run and were chased by police. The witness said the two were cornered on the second floor, which is 18 metres above the ground. “Then they had to jump off the building to avoid being caught,” James said.

The video seen by the Post showed Mr Egisimba motionless as onlookers attempted to lift him onto a stretcher.

In a statement, police said a “foreign suspect who was doing illegal currency exchange” sustained a back injury while trying to break a window and climb out of the building and was being treated in hospital. The statement said another foreign man was severely injured falling from the building. It did not say what had caused the fall or name the men.

The crowd was mostly Nigerian, but included men from Uganda, Cameroon, Mali and South Africa.

One protester said the crowd shouted: “We want to go back to Africa.” Witnesses said the crowd was angry about tight visa controls ahead of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, which had prevented many from gaining visa extensions.

But Mmaduabuc Hukuu David, a Nigerian who runs a photography business in the city, said visa extensions had been a long-term headache for the community.

The city is home to 20,000 Africans. The protest is believed to have been the first by foreigners anywhere on the mainland.


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