McDonald’s has begun dealing with the mess stirred up after a Guangzhou store put up a sign banning black people from the establishment.
A picture of the sign was widely circulated on social media, and it stated that the store had "been informed that from now on black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant."
In a statement, McDonald’s maintained that the sign was "not representative of our inclusive values." The sign was later taken down and the location closed temporarily.
There has been an increase in racial tensions in the industrial city, particularly between Africans and the locals. This follows recent warnings by Chinese officials about the increasing number of imported coronavirus cases. The warnings have increased anti-foreigner sentiments, with Africans in the city being evicted from their homes and being turned away by hotels. This is despite many claiming that they haven’t traveled recently or had any known contact with coronavirus patients.
McDonald's stated that it would use the closure to "further educate managers and employees on our values, which includes serving all members of the communities in which we operate."
Guangzhou has the largest African community in China because many of the Africans hold short-term business visas and travel into the country several times a year. This makes it difficult to estimate the African population in the city. However, Xinhua estimated that about 320,000 Africans entered and left China via Guangzhou in 2017.
This wasn’t the first time McDonald’s found itself facing backlash in other countries. Last year the "Sundae Bloody Sundae" Halloween desert ad in Portugal was pulled because “Bloody Sunday” refers to the day British soldiers shirt unarmed protestors in Derry during the Troubles –killing 14 people.
McDonald’s business has been greatly impacted by the pandemic, with sales plunging more than 22% in March, and by nearly 35% in the international markets.