In February, China’s televised Lunar New Year gala made international headlines for its controversial depiction of African life. During a segment of the variety show meant to celebrate relations with Africa, a popular Chinese actress arrived on stage in blackface makeup, with a basket of fruit on her head and prosthetic parts that enlarged her breast and buttocks under a traditional African dress. She was joined by a black man in a monkey costume.
The skit elicited widespread allegations of racism, with many adding that this was not the first time lately China had offended along racial lines. In October of last year, for instance, an art museum in Hubei Province was panned for pairing portraits of African people with photos of wildlife bearing similar expressions, such as a man and a lion both gnashing their teeth. In 2016, a now-infamous laundry detergent ad featured a young woman shoving a black suitor into a washing machine — and swooning when he emerged as a pale and camera-ready Asian man.