During what is reportedly the world’s most-watched television show, China’s Spring Festival Gala, a Chinese actress donned blackface makeup in a skit where she played an African woman. The skit aired on the nation’s state broadcast channel CCTV, which supposedly drafted to highlight the union between Kenya and China after the latter country built a high-speed railway in the African nation.
A comedy sketch that featured a Chinese woman in blackface has drawn accusations of racism after being broadcast on Chinese state television’s Lunar New Year variety show, although some people in Beijing were left wondering why it would be considered offensive.
The skit was shown Thursday night on state broadcaster CCTV and depicted the opening of a Chinese-built high-speed railway in Kenya. It featured actors in monkey and giraffe costumes, while the actress in blackface donned an exaggerated false bottom and a basket of fruit on her head.
The segment was meant to celebrate Sino-African relations, but many viewers blasted it online for cultural insensitivity.
The performance was part of CCTV’s annual Lunar New Year gala, which draws an audience of up to 800 million and is said to be one of the most watched programs in the world.
In the skit, Black women who were dressed as attendants on the newly built train system were featured, with others dressed in animal garb. The actress, Lou Naiming, in the role of a Kenyan mother praises China for bringing the rail system to the African country.
VOA adds that most who viewed the skit didn’t see it as a racist dig and instead feel that the critique of the blackface usage is overblown.