After meticulously analyzing hundreds of videos and posts from 2021, Human Rights Watch, a prominent human rights research and advocacy group, raised concerns over offensive racial stereotypes prevalent on Chinese social media platforms. Key highlights from the report:
- Platforms such as Weibo, Douyin (Chinese TikTok), Bilibili, Kuaishou, and Xiaohongshu displayed derogatory content about Black people.
- The content often portrayed Black Africans as uncivilized or dependent on Chinese people for help.
- Many Chinese citizens partnering with Blacks faced extensive online hate speech, threats of violence, and accusations of endangering the Chinese race.
- Chinese women in interracial relationships were especially targeted, with threats of doxing, rape, and death.
Historical Background of Racial Stereotyping in China
China has a history of racial prejudice, accentuated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Africans in China reported forced evictions and targeted quarantines. Additionally, the usage of racial caricatures and “blackface” in state media and advertising has been cited as a longstanding issue.
Chinese Interracial Couples Share Their Experience
For Emily Du and her husband Eric, an African from Benin, the internet became a battleground. Having shared their life on social media, specifically Xiaohongshu, for nearly two years, they experienced both support and significant online racism. Highlights from Emily’s interview:
- A sudden surge of racist attacks in May referred to as the “Anti-Black Wave” shocked the couple.
- The racist abuse was extensive, targeting not only the couple but also their supporters on social media.
- Eric believes that the prejudice they face stems from misconceptions rather than pure racism.
- Interracial marriages, particularly between Chinese and Africans, are still uncommon in China, leading to heightened curiosity and prejudice.
Racism on the Rise Despite Stricter Internet Censorship
Despite Beijing’s rigorous internet censorship known as the Great Firewall, racist content targeting Black people, both within and outside China, has flourished. Many posts mockingly impersonate Black people, spread false information, and even promote violence. Some extreme users on social platforms have urged for a ban on Black people from becoming permanent residents or marrying Chinese nationals, with others advocating for their execution.
Official Response and Call for Action
While platforms such as Bilibili, Kuaishou, Weibo, and Xiaohongshu failed to address Human Rights Watch’s concerns, ByteDance, the owner of Douyin, did take action by removing one video after concerns were raised. However, the company refrained from acting on several other derogatory videos. Human Rights Watch emphasized that:
- Most Chinese social media sites have set community standards prohibiting content that promotes racial or ethnic discrimination.
- These platforms should intensify their efforts to remove content that could incite racial discrimination, hate speech, or violence.
In a call to action, Yaqiu Wang, a senior researcher for China at Human Rights Watch, stated, “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.” Wang pressed Beijing to acknowledge the harm and take meaningful steps to address the prevalent issue.
Need for Greater Awareness
As the global community continues to grapple with issues of racial prejudice and discrimination, awareness campaigns and stricter regulations can play a crucial role in shaping a tolerant society. Addressing online hate is critical to ensuring the safety and well-being of vulnerable groups in any community. For further information on racial discrimination and the role of social media platforms in combating it, visit Human Rights Watch’s official website.