Beijing: Western media inciting China-Africa discord by branding CCTV Spring Festival Gala as racist

Source:CGTN Published: 2018/2/23 13:57:14

Beijing on Thursday accused the Western media of trying to drive a wedge between China and Africa by conferring racial overtones to a skit aired by the national broadcaster during last week's 2018 CCTV Spring Festival Gala, while asserting that China opposes racism in all its manifestations.

"I have read some reports and comments made by many media, especially Western media. If someone is trying to make use of this issue to drive a wedge between China and Africa, I have to say that they are doomed to fail," China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.

"China and Africa have forged impregnable friendship after going through hardships hand-in-hand, and the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides has yielded substantial outcomes. As regards how the China-Africa relations and cooperation have fared, no one knows better than the African countries and people," he added.

Geng had earlier dismissed the issue as non-diplomatic when asked by a reporter to react on the controversy.

"This does not seem like a diplomatic question. Do you honestly believe that it has reached the diplomatic level?" he said.

"If you want to ask something about the Spring Festival Gala, you may contact its organizer," Geng added when pushed further on the subject. 

The controversy

The controversy was sparked after an apparently innocuous comedy skit, intended to celebrate the ever-increasing China-Africa ties, showed a Chinese actor in blackface and huge fake buttocks while portraying an African woman.

The skit - aired during CCTV's spectacular annual Spring Festival Gala, dubbed as the world's most viewed television show with reportedly 800 million watching this year's broadcast - immediately drew heated debates on social media platforms in and outside China with a section of the international media dubbing it as outrageously racist.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry's official response, which came a week after the event, as most government offices in China were closed for the week-long Spring Festival, echoed the statement by Beijing's embassy in Kenya on Sunday that dismissed claims of racism against the television show.

The embassy, while rejecting media reports, stressed that any perception of ill-will was from those who are envious of Beijing's cooperation with Africa.

Zhang Gang, a spokesman of the embassy, told Nairobi-based Daily Nation newspaper that the reports of malice were "ill-intended, totally distorting and smearing."

"This play tells the story of China-Africa friendship in joyful and harmonious atmosphere. However, some people do not like to see the deepening cooperation between China and Africa," Zhang contended while stating that the show was vetted by government officials before it went on air.

The embassy spokesman also accused the Western media of starting the controversy and advised the Kenyan media to refrain from blindly copying the reports.

"We are not happy to see Kenyan media follow the Western media reports," Zhang said, adding: "Kenyan people should have their own judgment." 

Divided opinion

Opinion - both within and outside China - on whether the skit was racist in nature is largely divided. While many observers certainly felt offended by the inherent political incorrectness of the controversial skit, others have argued that while the skit may not necessarily symbolize racial discrimination but racial ignorance, and some have vouched for China as a strong defender of racial equality.

It is also worth noting that the reference points on racism and apartheid are radically different between the Western nations, most of which carry the historic burden of slavery and discrimination or former colonies that were victimized under discriminatory Western imperial policies.

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

blog comments powered by Disqus