China’s televised Lunar New Year’s Gala sparked outrage this year after an outwardly racist skit about Africans featuring a Chinese actress in blackface and large prosthetic buttocks.
Beijing officials said the skit was in no way racist, however, calling controversy over the segment a “futile” attempt by western media to undermine China’s relations with Africa, The Washington Post reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang appeared at a news conference on Thursday where he was pressed about the offensive sketch and its potential effects on Chinese diplomacy.
“As a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, I can tell you that China has always opposed any form of racial discrimination,” Geng told reporters, adding that he saw the skit was widely covered by Western media. He went on to suggest that if people tried to exaggerate the incident to sabotage China’s relations with Africa, their efforts would be “doomed.”
While Blackface is taboo and grossly offensive to Black folks in the U.S. and other nations, racism isn’t a topic of conversation in China. In fact, resident Zhou Hengshan, 80, told an Associated Press reporter last week that it’s common for Chinese actors to dress up as the races/cultures they portray. However, the nation has been called out several times already for its racial ignorance.
It was just last year that a Chinese television ad drew backlash after it showed a Black man being transformed into a Chinese man after his girlfriend washes him with the laundry soap being advertised.
China has made billions of dollars worth of investments in the African continent over the last few years, according to The Washington Post, and polls show that Africans, for the most part, have welcomed the Chinese investment.