China is turning a blind eye to criticism its media faced after an Asian actress appeared in blackface during a comedy routine on China’s biggest Lunar New Year TV show. Instead the country is flipping the situation around on critics, claiming that people are trying to undermine relations between China and Africa.
According to Reuters, on Thursday China claimed that it was “futile” to try and take issue with the skit—which featured a group of African dancers in tribal attire. The Asian actress, identified by the newswire as Lou Naiming, was also decked out in a traditional outfit, complete with a large, fake butt and blackface makeup. She carried a fruit plate on her head and was followed by another actor, who was dressed as a monkey.
The display drew international backlash and criticism, especially given that the show is often touted as the most widely watched show in the world, with up to 800 million viewers.
However, as mentioned, China has brushed aside the reactions, claiming that the country has consistently opposed any form of racism.
“Recently many media, especially Western media, have reported on and commented on this matter,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said during a daily news briefing, according to Reuters.
“I want to say that if there are people who want to seize on an incident to exaggerate matters, and sow discord in China’s relations with African countries, this is a doomed, futile effort,” said Geng.
“How relations are between China and Africa and whether or not cooperation is good, African countries and the people of Africa know in their hearts exactly how things stand,” he added.
It’s hard to take these kinds of words to heart when casual racism and racial insensitivity have been seen across the country. As referenced before (and we will reference again), there was an equally problematic incident two years ago when Qiaobi laundry detergent came under scrutiny after the brand showed a black man being “washed” and turned into a light-skinned Asian man.
But if this is the way criticism is being met, it’s little wonder that not much has changed.