Al Jazeera, August 17, 2023
Human Rights Watch has found racist content targeting Black people is becoming increasingly prevalent on China’s social media platforms where it is being used to attract traffic and generate profit.
The rights group reviewed hundreds of videos and posts from 2021 on platforms including Weibo, a short messaging app, and Douyin, the Chinese TikTok, and said it found that content often portrayed Black people through “offensive racial stereotypes”.
Human Rights Watch noted that influencer videos depicting Black Africans as primitive or dependent on Chinese people as their saviours were particularly widely shared, while Black people who married Chinese were accused in online posts of “contaminating” and threatening the Chinese race. Chinese in relationships with Black people, meanwhile, were accused of being traitors.
“The Chinese government likes to tout China-Africa anti-colonial solidarity and unity, but at the same time, ignores pervasive hate speech against Black people on the Chinese internet,” Yaqiu Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch said in a statement. “Beijing should recognise that undertaking investments in Africa and embracing China-Africa friendship won’t undo harm caused by unaddressed racism.”
Accusations of racism against Africans also emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, when some were forced out of their apartments and singled out for quarantine, prompting rare criticism from African leaders. Some African residents said they had been the target of everyday racism and xenophobia long before that, with state media and adverts deploying ‘Blackface‘ and racial caricatures.
Human Rights Watch noted most Chinese social media platforms have community standards and guidelines that ban content promoting racial or ethnic hatred and discrimination.
It noted the prevalence of posts calling on the government to ban Black people from becoming permanent residents in China or from marrying Chinese people. Some also adopted racist symbols and language frequently used in the United States in their online posts, while some called for them to be killed.
Noting that Beijing maintains “one of the world’s most sophisticated internet censorship regimes” through the so-called Great Firewall, it urged the government to do more to tackle the problem and take steps to promote tolerance and fight prejudice.