Beijing: Chinese police have refuted reports that scores of Tibetans were being driven out and many Africans deported ahead of the Asian Games commencing at Guangzhou city from Friday.
The public security department in Guangzhou in Guangdong Province denied allegations that they have been deporting scores of Africans and driving out Tibetans, state-run Global Times reported.
"We welcome all ethnic groups, including Tibetans, and foreign friends, including Africans, to come to Guangzhou. We will work together for a peaceful and harmonious Asian Games," the department said in a written statement to the newspaper.
Singapore-based Lianhe Zaobao reported that the Guangzhou city police were repatriating Africans and asking Tibetans to leave under a plan to tighten control over peddlers at the Games.
Holders of an expired visa and those who entered China through illegal channels, such as with a fake visa, were repatriated and Tibetan vendors were asked to stop selling on the streets, said the report which quoted a security official.
Some of the affected ethnic Tibetans and African citizens felt the city "no longer welcomed them" because of the Games, the report said.
A 33-year-old Nigerian told the newspaper that police repeatedly asked him to show his passport, which he called "ruthless”. It is "unfair for Africans to be under such a close watch," the Nigerian said.
The report quoted an unnamed Tibetan as saying that the city disappointed them.
Chinese police were accused of conducting similar crackdown against Tibetans ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing after the riots in Lhasa, the Tibetan provincial capital against the settlements of mainland Chinese.
Overseas Tibetans also protested during the Olympic torch relay in many countries.
A Chinese official played down the checks in Guangzhou saying that checking on Africans "does not mean prejudice" and police have taken away only those who have stayed in Guangzhou illegally and criminal suspects.
And more Han peddlers hailing from the majority Han ethnic group were asked to stop their work than Tibetans. Every year, there are about 3.8 million foreigners who arrive and depart from Guang-zhou. More than 20,000 are living in Guangzhou and 2,000 of them are Africans while unofficial estimates put the figure around 20,000 to two lakh, the statement of the public security department said.
Most of them are abiding laws and has promoted the development of Guangzhou, it said.
In accordance with the law, police will deal with foreigners who illegally enter and live in the country, it added.