A comedy sketch on Chinese state television has been accused of racism because it showed a Chinese woman in blackface with an exaggerated false bottom and a fruit basket on her head.
The skit was aired on Thursday night on state television’s Lunar New Year variety show and depicted the opening of a Chinese-built high-speed railway in Kenya.
It featured actors in monkey and giraffe costumes and was meant to celebrate Sino-African relations, but has been blasted for being culturally insensitive .
The skit shows a black woman asking the show’s host to pose as her husband when meeting her mother, in order to avoid being set up on a blind date.
A Chinese actress playing her mother then appears in blackface followed by an actor in a monkey costume.
The host’s Chinese wife later appears, ending the deception.
But the African mother says she can’t be angry because ‘China has done so much for Africa.’
A Chinese comedy sketch broadcast on state media showed an Asian woman with her face blacked up and has drawn accusations of racism
‘I love Chinese people! I love China,’ the actress in blackface exclaims.
Although the skit, titled ‘Same Joy, Same Happiness,’ was meant to celebrate Sino-African relations, many viewers condemned it online, with some calling it ‘cringe worthy’ and ‘completely racist.’
One person commented: ‘One thing that ruined my Chinese New Year and I feel ashamed for my country thinking that this is okay.’
Melanie Hsee wrote: ‘As a Chinese, I feel embarrassed. Old stubborn guys are ruling China, leaving young people apologizing to the rest of the world. Sad’
User iamHuizit wrote: ‘CCTV’s racist show during Spring Gala shook me and made me so ashamed of China and my people. They literally had blackface on stage, had an African actor to play a monkey and a African actress yelling ‘I love China!’ Racism is global.’
Another posted: ‘How narcissistic must they be to think it was a good idea to have an actor in blackface praise China?’
The performance was part of CCTV’s annual Lunar New Year gala, which has an audience of around 800 million and is one of the most watched programs in the world.
The 13-minute segment opened with a dance sequence set to Colombian singer Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’ featuring Africans dressed in zebra, lion and gazelle costumes, and actresses playing attendants on Kenya’s new Chinese-built high-speed rail line.
But the reaction on the streets of Beijing was muted, with some saying the criticism was overblown.
‘It’s normal for Chinese actors to dress up like foreigners when performing a foreign play,’ said Zhou Hengshan, 80. ‘This wasn’t meant to demean any specific ethnic group.’
Xue Lixia, 20, said she trusted CCTV’s judgment in assessing whether the skit was racist.
The skit was shown on state broadcaster CCTV on Thursday night and depicted the opening of a Chinese-built high-speed rail in Kenya
‘After all, this is a sketch that was broadcast on the Lunar New Year gala. If there was any racism, then it would have already been cut,’ Liu said.
Blackface is considered especially offensive in the United States because of its strong connections to slavery and bigotry against African Americans.
This isn’t the first time CCTV’s Lunar New Year gala has come under fire.
The show is laden with praise for the ruling Communist Party and its policies, especially on culture and ethnic relations, and its portrayals of China’s own ethnic minorities, particularly Muslim Uighurs from the northwestern region of Xinjiang, have been criticised.
The sketch has been described as ‘racist’ and culturally insensitive but Beijing residents have defended the variety show