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The embassy had alleged Chinese people were being discriminated against under Russia’s coronavirus containment rules. Photo: Reuters

Coronavirus: China embassy U-turns on claim Russian police singled out Chinese

  • Allegations that Moscow police were violent and detained Chinese nationals for no reason had come from social media, embassy says
  • It now says there was no discrimination and those detained by Russian police had all violated epidemic prevention regulations
The Chinese embassy in Russia has withdrawn its claim that Chinese nationals were being singled out for coronavirus containment measures or abused while in quarantine in the country.
The U-turn came after the embassy sent a diplomatic note to the Moscow city government last Monday claiming that only Chinese nationals appeared to be targeted by the city’s containment measures.

The concerns about Chinese people in Russia were raised following speculation on social media that they were subjected to violent law enforcement, abuse and detention for no reason by Moscow police. But the embassy’s new statement on Sunday said that those reports were not true, and that Russian authorities had strictly enforced quarantine rules against all people, including Russians.

“After verification, we found that the speculation was not true,” it said. “Those who were taken away by police had violated Russia’s quarantine rules, and in addition to Chinese nationals, Russian and other foreigners are also in the quarantine centres.”

The embassy called on Chinese nationals not to “create, believe and spread rumours”.

It defended the Russian authorities and said they were not targeting Chinese people, citing examples of embassy staff being questioned then let go after passport checks proved they had arrived in the country more than 14 days earlier.

“The enforcement of the law was generally up to standard,” the embassy said.


The new stance came only days after the embassy urged Moscow authorities to be “moderate and non-discriminatory” in their treatment of Chinese nationals. In a statement last Thursday, the embassy said it had sent a diplomatic note to the Moscow government three days earlier, alleging that the identification and monitoring of suspects was focused on “Chinese citizens”, instead of “all people with a China travel history”.

China targets travellers at borders to stop coronavirus spread

“We hope the measures will be in line with the friendship and high-level relationship between China and Russia,” the statement said, referencing the close political and military ties between the two governments in recent years.

Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin said previously that about 80 Chinese citizens and eight people from other countries faced deportation for violating quarantine regulations since February 22.

The Chinese embassy said consular staff had visited people in Russian quarantine centres and provided legal aid. Chinese nationals accounted for only a third of those quarantined, the statement said.

China defends control measures on South Korean, Japanese visitors

“The consular staff have visited the quarantined citizens with food and basic necessities, and asked Russian authorities to provide good isolation and living conditions,” the statement said.

A day earlier, the embassy had urged Chinese citizens in Russia to abide by local regulations on coronavirus prevention.

Russia initially ordered all people arriving from China and other countries and regions hit by the coronavirus to quarantine themselves for 14 days to prevent its further spread. The country also stopped issuing new visas to private Chinese visitors and students, and then banned entry by all Chinese passport holders except those on diplomatic and official business.


The embassy said that Chinese citizens should respect Russia’s efforts to contain the virus and that consular staff had abided by the requirement to complete 14 days of self-isolation before returning to work.

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This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Russian police not targeting Chinese, embassy now says