Blacks Banned from Bars in Beijing?

By Jonathan Adams Jul 21, 2008

China is weeks away from hosting the 2008 Olympic Games and there are several final touches being made in Beijing to make sure that the country is the perfect host. One of these last-minute details, however, may be completely contradictory to the official slogan, “One World, One Dream”. Hong Kong’s English newspaper The South China Morning Post reported Friday that Chinese authorities have issued a secret ban on blacks, Mongolians and other "social undesirables" from Beijing’s bars during the Olympics.

Bar owners near the Workers’ Stadium in central Beijing say they have been forced by Public Security Bureau officials to sign pledges agreeing not to let black people enter their premises…. Security officials are targeting Sanlitun, which Olympic organizers expect to be a key destination for foreign tourists looking for a party during the Games. The pledges that Sanlitun bar owners had been instructed to sign agreed to stop a variety of activities in their establishments, including dancing and serving customers with black skin, they said.

A number of Africans in Beijing, who spoke under anonymity, say they have experienced discrimination in the city as the Games grow nearer. Globe and Mail reports, "A woman from Liberia, who is co-owner of a hair salon in Beijing, said she was outraged when she visited a popular Beijing nightclub and found that the entrance fee for black people was twice as high as for other foreigners. Even if they managed to enter the club, the black patrons were prohibited from sitting at the tables, she said." But some in Beijing are already questioning the credibility of this report. Though Chinese officials have denied the allegations and Beijing citizens rebuff the reports, "Last September, police reportedly detained dozens of blacks in the Sanlitun bar district and, according to witnesses, beat some with clubs, including the son of Grenada’s ambassador to China." Several other measures–much less violent–are also being implemented to prepare for the Olympics. Chinese officials have released an etiquette booklet to Beijing residents with tips on how to impress foreign visitors. "In conversation, wear a smile, don’t stare too long or do anything to make people feel ill at ease," it says. The booklet advises Beijing people to say to disabled people such things as: ‘You’re really excellent’ It also warns Beijing people not to yawn, shout, pick their noses, scratch their heads, play with their fingernails or pull at their clothes while talking. Along with manners, "about two million vehicles are forced off the roads in a scheme that allows private vehicles to be used on alternate days."