Human Rights Watch (HRW) has discovered that Chinese social media is rife with prejudiced videos, particularly content that mocks black people or portrays them through objectionable racial stereotypes.
The human rights watchdog analyzed hundreds of videos uploaded to Chinese social media since 2021 and discovered that major platforms, such as Bilibili, Douyin, Kuaishou, Weibo, and Xiaohongshu, “do not routinely address racist content.”
A popular type of video on Chinese social media depicts Africans as primitive or indigent, while Chinese people — often the content creators — are portrayed as affluent saviors.
A video uploaded to Douyin in April of this year depicts a woman cleansing her hands in a hut in an African country before consuming what is described as homemade alcohol from a muddy blue container. The video with the caption “#LifeInAfrica #cleanandhygienic #PrimitiveTribe” has 12,000 likes and a number of negative comments, such as “Thank you to my eight generations of ancestors for giving birth to me in China.”
Other videos are bigoted and misogynistic in their denigration of interracial relationships, particularly between black men and Chinese women. HRW discovered that Chinese women who post photographs of themselves with black male companions on Chinese social media are sometimes subjected to online harassment, including death threats, rape threats, and doxing, in which private residential addresses and images are shared online.
Online, Chinese individuals who support victims of anti-black prejudice in China have been labeled traitors in other instances.
The Chinese government has condemned online bigotry, particularly when there is a backlash, and vowed to crack down on “illegal online acts.” Lu Ke, a Chinese vlogger, was ordered to depart Malawi last month after being convicted of 14 charges, including child trafficking and procurement of minors for use in entertainment. Last year, he was arrested after a BBC Africa Eye documentary exposed him as the creator of videos featuring Malawian children that were being sold for up to £55.
Lu had instructed the children to recite incomprehensible messages in Mandarin, such as “I am black monster, my IQ is low.”
All of the social media platforms investigated by HRW have published community guidelines prohibiting content that promotes racial or ethnic hostility and discrimination. However, HRW stated that these policies are “inadequate”.
China’s Censorship: Biased Moderation and Online Dynamics
The researchers observe that Beijing’s Great Firewall of internet censorship in China requires platforms to employ tens of thousands of content moderators who remove or restrict politically sensitive content. Critical comments about government policies, the Communist party, or even the economy are purged within hours, whereas derogatory content about ethnic minorities frequently remains online and receives thousands of likes.
The editor-in-chief of the website Whats on Weibo, Manya Koetse, stated that since the BBC Africa Eye documentary, bigoted videos on Weibo were removed more quickly. She emphasized, however, that “often what is perceived as racist content against black people in western content is not perceived as racist content against black people in China”.
Yaqiu Wang, a senior China researcher 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.
“Major Chinese social media platforms are failing to fulfil their own guidelines to address pervasive racist content.”
Douyin told HRW that the platform “on average take[s] action on more than 300 videos and comments per day that include violative content targeting black people”.
ByteDance (the parent company of Douyin), Bilibili, Kuaishou, Weibo, and Xiaohongshu were contacted for comment.
Source: The Guardian