African Student Standoff Ends in China
A 10-day standoff between foreign students and Chinese authorities at an isolated guest house outside Nanjing ended Thursday when 45 African students, the last in a group that originally numbered about 140, returned to Hehai University.
Chinese authorities, meanwhile, announced that three African students are being punished for allegedly instigating the Christmas Eve clash on the Hehai campus that sparked the affair and that three Chinese also have been detained in connection with the incident.
The New China News Agency, in a report late Thursday, quoted a Nanjing police official who asserted that three African students in police custody have admitted guilt.
Alex Dosoo, of Ghana, allegedly admitted that he “beat and seriously injured” a Chinese gatekeeper at the university. Dosoo is “currently under criminal detention,” the report said.
Two other students, Alpha Robinson of Gambia and Dossoumou Boni Lodovic of Benin, allegedly admitted that they “tried to stir up trouble during a clash on the campus of Hehai University when Chinese students and teachers were beaten by overseas students,” according to the news agency.
The police official said that Robinson and Lodovic will be detained for 15 days as punishment.
Chinese authorities in Beijing and the manager of the suburban Nanjing guest house vigorously denied that any students were mistreated or tortured by police in a confrontation Saturday at the guest house, during which all but the 45 Hehai University students were removed from the facility.
Several African students alleged Monday to an African diplomat and Western reporters that some students were stripped and then shocked with electric batons during the confrontation.
‘They Are Lying’
Tang Huangang, the guest house manager, described these allegations as “nonsense,” the New China News Agency reported.
“They are lying,” he said.
Students in Nanjing on Thursday continued to insist that police had used clubs and electric batons, but the allegation about the use of electric batons after removal of clothing appeared to be an unsubstantiated rumor.
One student who had told reporters of such incidents said Thursday that he had not witnessed them himself, and a student named by an African diplomat as an apparent victim told other students that he had not been stripped.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing described the Nanjing troubles as a campus security problem, not a sign of racism. He said it will not affect Beijing’s friendly relations with African states.
In Ghana, however, the state-run radio station reported that the government may recall the 26 Ghanaian students studying in China. Diplomats from Ghana and Benin said China’s handling of the incidents could damage Sino-African ties.
The original Christmas Eve clash was related to a dispute over attempts by university authorities to control visits by Chinese women to the foreign students’ dormitory, according to university authorities and the students.
The university had twice built a wall blocking access to the dormitory, and the African students had twice town it down.
When the students returned Thursday, the university had constructed an iron fence and gate controlling access to the dormitory.
“They built the iron wall because maybe they know it is not easy for us to break it, if we want to break it again,” said Hamidou Mamadou, a student from Niger. “Anyway, we are ready to leave China, so we don’t care about the wall. If they want, they can come and live inside the prison themselves. But we are ready to leave.”
Students also found new restrictions waiting for them on their relations with Chinese women, according to news agency reports. The new regulations at Hehai limit each African exchange student to one Chinese girlfriend, the wire services quoted African students as saying in telephone interviews.