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Africa Envoys Fly to China Site of Student Clash

From Reuters

African envoys flew to the eastern city of Nanjing on Friday to meet with black students and Chinese officials in a bid to ease racial tension after a recent clash.

After a long delay in the snow-bound Chinese capital, Beijing-based envoys from eight African countries left for Nanjing, 600 miles to the south, diplomats said.

“They will meet the authorities at Hehai University, and they should see the students who are still in detention,” said an African diplomat.

Three Africans--from Ghana, Gambia and Benin--have been detained and are expected to be expelled from Hehai University.

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Three Chinese men were also being held, but officials in Nanjing, contacted by telephone, said they were not students.

The diplomats were making their second visit to Nanjing since the clash that injured 13 people, according to official media. Protests were held in three other cities.

African students have said they were stripped, beaten and shocked with electric cattle prods. Chinese officials vehemently denied this.

Chinese authorities made concessions to African students to help ease tension.

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In the eastern city of Hangzhou, officials at Zhejiang Agriculture University agreed to sign a pledge that it is not official policy to isolate blacks from Chinese for fear they carry the AIDS virus.

African students, who had complained that officials were stirring up AIDS fears, ended a strike Friday.

The New China News Agency quoted Chinese teachers at Hehai University as welcoming back 45 Africans kept by police at a guest house outside the city since Dec. 26.

Hehai President Liang Ruiju denied statements by Africans at that college that they were subjected to a “one Chinese girlfriend” policy.

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Africans said Thursday they had been told they could have only one officially approved Chinese girlfriend in an apparent compromise on the issue of relations between black men and Chinese women.

Officials quoted Liang as saying: “It is all right for African students to look for girlfriends but they should be prudent and not look for one today and one tomorrow.”


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