A skit on the CCTV Spring Festival Gala has come under fire by netizens depicting a Chinese actress adorned in blackface makeup and costume on national television, while screaming “I love China”.
The comedy skit intended to commemorate Chinese-African ties and initially saw a dance number featuring several dancers who appear to be of African descent. As the skit went on, Chinese actress Lou Naiming made an appearance dressed in blackface costume and makeup, to play the mother of a young female African woman. The latter had asked a Chinese man to pose as her significant other when meeting her mother.
Watch the full skit here:
According to the BBC, the skit also looked to showcase how Africa had benefited from Chinese investment and how Africa was grateful to Beijing. This saw Lou’s character exclaiming how much she loves China. The sketch was also set around people working on the Nairobi-Mombasa railway project.
Following the airing of the skit, netizens criticised the spot for being racist due to the use of blackface makeup and “exaggerated proportions” to portray African women.
Chinese netizens were also quick to apologise for their country and the ignorance showcased by the skit.
My first Chinese New Year watching the annual CCTV spring gala and they trot out a Chinese lady in blackface, exaggerated proportions and everything, with a pet "monkey" (played by a man from Cote D'Ivoire), shouting "I love China!" - I can't even pic.twitter.com/n3J1YsRhmy
— Krish Raghav (@krishraghav) February 15, 2018
This year’s CCTV Gala, China-Africa ties was portrayed in a comedy show with belt & road themes, inflatable animals, and a Chinese woman in blackface declaring 'I love China!'
One thing that ruined my Chinese New Year and I feel ashamed for my country thinking that this is okay. pic.twitter.com/Ho1rHltctc
— Venus (@drgnvee) February 16, 2018
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 y’all...
— Huizit (@iamHuizit) February 16, 2018
Marketing has reached out to CCTV for comment.
This is not the first time China has come under fire for incidents deemed as racist regarding African and dark-skinned individuals. In 2016, an ad for laundry detergent brand Qiaobi turned heads for its blatant racism. The ad saw a woman stuffing a laundry detergent capsule into a black man’s mouth while shoving him into a washing machine, only to have a young Asian man with a clean shirt climb out of the machine after.
Closer to home, the use of blackface has also copped backlash for other companies in Singapore and Malaysia. In 2017, Watsons Malaysia’s “Legenda Cun Raya” campaign has sparked a debate online after an ad nearly 15 minutes long portrayed a “blackface” lady as unattractive. Astro’s MeleTOP, a Malaysian TV show, also apologised for a parody video featuring an actor with “blackface” makeup posing as American singer Usher.
In Singapore, Toggle, Mediacorp’s OTT service provider, also came under fire for use of blackface makeup on a Chinese actor to portray an individual of African American descent. Instead of finding an actual African American actor to play the role, the show used Chinese actor Shane Pow, transforming his look with the help of black make up and costume.
(Image courtesy: CCTV春晚)