One World, One Dream, One Serious Allegation

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An unconfirmed report in today’s South China Morning Post claims that blacks will be “secretly” banned from bars in Beijing’s Sanlitun entertainment area for the duration of the Olympics. What is one to make of it? The story, by Tom Miller and Peter Simpson, quotes an anonymous bar owner as saying that security officers forced him to sign a pledge that required him to prevent black people from entering his premises. A nameless “black British national” is also quoted, expressing his shock and disappointment.
The ban (if true) is apparently designed to counteract drug dealing, which Beijing’s authorities have associated with black people for some time. Last September, a police raid on Sanlitun saw around 20 black men arrested and some of them beaten by police (it is thought that a good number were innocent, and one was the son of a diplomat). But the black dealers in Beijing’s demimonde are also perilously conspicuous, and their numbers have been greatly reduced by periodic clampdowns. Besides, the vast bulk of China’s retail drug trade is, of course, conducted by Chinese.
Although it has been criticized for the heavy-handed security restrictions that are being imposed in the run up to the games, it seems highly unlikely that China will risk international condemnation—or even boycotts—with a crude, racist gesture such as this touted ban. China’s cordial relations with many African countries are another reason to be skeptical. But all the same, today’s report is a curious piece, and we shall be looking keenly for confirmation, a retraction, or an official refutation.