Hundreds of millions of Chinese are still in virtual coronavirus quarantine and yet to report for work in the Chinese New Year, millions of firms are facing bankruptcy and the country’s factory activity shrank at a record rate in February. With such gloomy circumstances and so much not to like it seems there is something most Chinese can all at least agree on: they really hate black people.
Last week, China, which is one of the hardest places on earth to emigrate to (only had less than 1500 naturalized citizens in 2010) suddenly announced that it was seeking opinions on a draft to make it easier for foreigners to gain permanent residence in China. Bad move.
The backlash to the announcement was instant and sustained, it equals or surpasses the unprecedent backlash that followed the death of the whistle-blower doctor from Wuhan. The only difference was unlike the backlash on the death of Li Wenliang being censored, the current one is being left alone if not fanned.
Multiple hashtags of the issue started trending on Weibo a Chinese copy of Twitter, every post by authorities or state media was quickly bombarded with hundreds of thousands of comments on the proposed bill. One of the hashtags was read almost 4 billion times in a country of 1.4 billion.
Very few of the comments of posts provided any intellectual justification for their opposing the bill, some did: saying the move would foster corruption and take away jobs, but most only stated, zoomed in and focused on one thing: black people.
People posted about how China would be taken over by strong black genes, how Chinese women would be raped, how blacks would bring crime. Some simply stated that they really hated black people.
Citizens posted pictures of officials in crosshairs and some depicted an official bent over and a black man in an orange prison uniform and the N-word plastered on his chest seemingly sodomizing him. Apparently the official, Yang Yiyong had said some positives words about inter-racial marriage.
Every Chinese person who could find a video of black people doing crime did so and plastered it on social media. One of the most widely circulated shows two black teens shoplifting in an unidentified country. Another video from the 120db movement in Europe which has young white women describing being harassed by refugees also got widely circulated.
For effect, pictures of black men with Chinese girls were plastered all over the place and the women were called whores. The vitriol was reminiscent of the recent controversy over a program by Shandong University to foster cultural communication during which netizens also used pictures of Chinese women with brown and black men to make their points, to bully the girls and to stroke nationalism.
Even though gory videos are not allowed on Chinese social media, it seemed Weibo, QQ and Wechat made an exception if the offender was black.
Fake news was also a big part of the narrative and it was pushed by accounts some of whom are verified. One involved a picture of black people had words saying that France is now 80 percent black.
One picture featured a banner in Africa shouting: ‘Rape Rape Rape: You can do it in China. Refugees can do anything. Contact the Chinese Embassy Now! You will not be punished.’ This text was wrapped around a drawing of three black men pinning down and raping an Asian woman.
Ohers circulated a picture of pure yellow corn next to another batch with dark purple corn overshadowing the yellow.
Some shared accounts of how they fear walking around on campuses where black people also study, some shared pictures of blacks on Chinese trains. Meme after meme rained.
I have lived in China since 2013, I know it is one of the most racist countries on earth, but this week’s eruption on social is one I have not seen before. Even some of my former Chinese students were blatantly posting about blacks bringing HIV to China and their hatred of black people.
It is fashionable for Chinese schools to openly advertise jobs and demand that only white people apply. In some Chinese cities, schools would rather have Russians who can barely speak English than have black English professors. This is something every black person who spends enough time in China knows. The current racist movement is however a new thing.
With the economy in bad shape, with households in financial trouble could someone be provoking fears among the population to make them forget their actual problems? It sure seems so because with all their censorship and their toughness against the topics that criticise government, authorities seem to be happy letting this one gain steam.
None of the naturalized citizens of China that I have seen are black, it is already hard for Africans to even apply for visas to China and some hotels in China blatantly refuse to let in anyone with an African passport.
It is fashionable being racist in China even the state media can nonchalantly portray blackface and racist tropes. When one rapper was accused of promoting drug use, he apologised and blamed it on ‘black music,’ and he was forgiven. One wonders how people like me who listen to nothing but black music are seen in China. There is also a massive movement of Chinese going to Africa and making demeaning videos of unsuspecting natives in Mandarin for clicks and views in China.
Chinese can be racist all they want, but to use blackness as a scapegoat in times of economic and social turmoil is disturbing. It is more disturbing if one considers that there are a million Chinese in Africa and the author Howard French found that Chinese push African governments to lower immigration restrictions against Chinese as part of trade deals.
Black people are subjected to a medical before and after they enter China, most of the HIV clusters in China have no links Africa. They come from the women Chinese men are fast-tracking and traffic into marriage from Myanmar to fill the shortage of women in China, from gay men who are not targeted by HIV outreach messages and from bad practices in collecting blood from poor and desperate locals who used to sell blood for survival. Yet the black man is the bogeyman.
When the coronavirus broke out China constantly complained of being stigmatized, it even expelled reports of the Wall Street Journal over a headline it deemed racist. All that now seems very questionable if anyone looks at what is on Chinese social media now.
The most retweeted tweet in the world was one that promised people they would win money, even then it only got retweeted about 5 million times. Compare that to the billions of views and hundreds of millions of comments on the issue, it should show you how hateful just one country is towards blacks.
Some would argue that it is simply Chinese being against foreign influence, but that would be not correct because even though there are more whites in China and more white-Chinese couples in China, they are conspicuously missing from the uproar and slander.
There are many African students studying in China as China desperately tries to appear internationalised, many Africans also jet into southern China to buy products that keep many businesses in China alive.
How is it possible to hate the very people one needs? How long before all the social media vitriol turns into real violence against black people in China? What is the end game?Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :