Africans protest in China as man dies in police custody

BEIJING Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:02pm EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - More than 100 Africans protested on Tuesday outside a police station in China's southern Guangdong province after an African man died in police custody, state news agency Xinhua said, citing local authorities.

The protest in Guangdong's capital Guangzhou, which brought traffic to a halt, lasted for two hours on Tuesday, Xinhua said, citing an official from the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau.

Xinhua said the dead African man, whose identity has not been confirmed, "suddenly fell unconscious" at a police station on Monday afternoon "and died after medical efforts failed", Xinhua said, citing police.

The African man was taken into the police station for questioning on Monday after he had a "physical altercation" with another person, the owner of an electric bicycle who had given the African man a ride as a passenger on Monday afternoon, Xinhua said. Both of them disagreed over payment.

The protest comes ahead of a summit between China and Africa that China is expected to host in July, and amid a crackdown by Beijing and Shanghai on "illegal foreigners". In late May, Beijing launched a 100-day campaign to "clean out" foreigners living or working illegally in the city and has stepped up police checks on expatriates.

The Xinhua report said police have launched an investigation into the death and that "police in Guangzhou have called for foreigners to abide by Chinese law and refrain from disturbing public order".

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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