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Class Boycott Ends With School Agreeing To Letter About AIDS

January 5, 1989

BEIJING (AP) _ About 45 African students returned to their university today after spending 10 days under virtual house arrest in a guest house outside Nanking.

African students in Hangzhou, meanwhile, ended a 10-day class boycott after their college’s president agreed to write an open letter saying none of them has AIDS and to allow them to make private telephone calls outside the school.

One African country warned it may recall its students because of ″the current molestation of African students in China.″

Besides Hangzhou and Nanking, racial incidents have occurred in Beijing and Wuhan, an industrial city in central China.

In Nanking, the 45 students from Hehai University returned to their school so they could meet a delegation of African diplomats on Friday.

On Dec. 26, about 140 mostly African students were forced to the guest house after a bloody clash between Chinese and African students on Christmas Eve that was caused by anti-black protests. The students had wanted to go to Beijing but were stopped by police.

On Saturday, about 400 paramilitary forces attacked the guest house, using electronic cattle prods and wooden clubs to beat and torture the students, African students and diplomats said. Chinese authorities deny the report.

Most of the students were brought back to Nanking but the 45 from Hehai remained. One student was arrested and three detained for questioning. All four have been expelled from Hehai.

On Sunday, hundreds more paramilitary troops flooded the guest house, Hehai students said today.

″Police were everywhere, in the building, in the corridors, on the landings, in the lounges and on some balconies,″ said Carl Ameho, from Ghana. ″Whenever five or more students gathered, police would knock on the door and stop us from speaking. It was a real jail.″

Students were prohibited from making telephone calls and could only go outside to walk to the dining hall, Ameho said.

He said that to protest their treatment and press the demand to see their diplomats, students began a hunger strike on Tuesday. They dropped their demand to go to Beijing when authorities agreed to allow African diplomats to come meet them, he said.

Students at Hehai said that on their first day back, Chinese students yelled: ″Black devil, you’ve returned,″ and ″Black devil, get lost.″

″We are still very scared here,″ said a student from Gambia. ″Today I rode outside the university and came home quickly because so many people were calling me a ’black devil.‴

Ameho said Liang Ruiju, the president of Hehai, met with African students one-on-one and told them that under the university’s new regulations, if Africans had a Chinese girlfriend she must be introduced to university officials. Chinese women can lose their jobs or be subjected to ridicule if they openly have relations with foreign men.

In Hangzhou, the resolution of the conflict at Zhejiang Agricultural College marked the end of the first of four race-related incidents in China over the last two weeks. It also was the first time that Chinese authorities have made concessions to African students.

African students said the trouble in Hangzhou began when Chinese telephone operators told Chinese callers that all Africans had AIDS. The university has denied the allegation.

In Beijing, African students at the Beijing Languages Institute continued a class boycott, triggered by Chinese allegations that a black student accosted a Chinese woman in her room.

In Wuhan, the Hubei province foreign affairs office acknowledged that Chinese students threw rocks at foreign student dormitories last week. It said a Sri Lankan student at Central China Polytechnical College was injured by glass from a broken window Dec. 29.

African students at the school said Chinese were demonstrating in support of the anti-black demonstrations in Nanking.

In Ghana, the state-run radio station reported that the government may recall the 26 Ghanian students now in China.

Diplomats from Ghana and Benin said China’s handling of the incidents could damage Sino-African ties.

China denies all charges of racial prejudice, and expresses pride at its long-established policy of showing solidarity with the Third World by giving scholarships to African students. There are about 1,500 African students from 40 nations now in China.

Africans complain that they are subject to racial discrimination, and social contacts between African men and Chinese women are a frequent source of tension. Chinese also resent the fact that Africans, many from countries as poor as China, receive far better food and lodging than Chinese students.

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