Covid-19 drove hundreds of Africans out of Guangzhou. A generation of mixed-race children is their legacy

Updated 6:26 AM ET, Thu March 18, 2021

(CNN)When the coronavirus pandemic ground China to a near-halt in early February last year, Youssouf Dieng jetted back to Dakar for, he thought, a brief sojourn.

In reality, it was a year before Dieng -- who had worked as a goods trader in the manufacturing hub of Guangzhou in southern China for two decades -- could return, on an air ticket three times the usual cost, and a complicated business visa. By then, the pandemic had driven hundreds of Africans out of Guangzhou, sparked the most severe anti-Black racial clashes in China in decades, and remade business operations, with Chinese factories connecting with African customers directly over e-commerce platforms.
"Now it is very, very quiet," Dieng says of Little Africa, a nook of Guangzhou informally named after the swell of thriving African businessmen who once lived, ate and prayed there in huge numbers. "Not many foreigners now, and all the small shops are closed. Small business around here? No more."