Is China racist?

This image was posted on various Chinese . So is it racist against Africans? Two of our Chinese Observers explain why they don't think it is. See the poster in full and read more...


This image was posted on various Chinese online forums:


Most of the examples are self-explanatory. Note that the watch-wearing crab at the end of the Chinese evolution line refers to how Chinese Web users describe government censorship. What people who came across the image found shocking was that few Chinese Web users had noted any offence in the Africa entry.

"As for Africa, I think most Chinese people neither hate it nor love it"

River coolcool is a Chinese blogger and freelance engineer.

We believe the biggest racist in this world is the US government, and we are taught that most white people in the West are also racists... I promise you, neither I nor 99% of the Great Chinese people are racist. We hate racism. We only have prejudice. We never judge people by their skin colour, we only judge them by their social class, and most important of all, the contents of their WALLET!!

As for the picture, I think it represents a complex combination of feelings, which could warrant a book. Here I can only say, as Chinese netizens, we hate Europe (especially France recently), we hate the US, we hate Japan, and we hate Korea. In the meantime, we also hate our government. So in the picture, you can see both the stupid foreign apes and the crap three watches on the river crab. But as for Africa, I think most Chinese people neither hate it nor love it. In fact we don't care about it, and we know almost nothing new about it. It's here only to make the picture more ‘funny', and to satisfy some kind of vanity (not because of the skin, but the economy). Maybe such ignorance is just as bad as the supposed racism."

"People here used to think that white people were albino, hairy or just ghosts, and black people dirty"

Michael Anti, one of our Observers from Beijing, has studied and lived in the US.

I recall when I first talked to people in the States, it really shocked me that I could only use "African American" to label black people. Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, who gave an impromptu speech publicly in Maryland in May 2008, said that the American election had been between "an old man, a black man and a woman". He had no idea that it was regarded by most of the audience there as a racist speech. Then Taiwanese channel TVBS put up a headline saying "Black Horse Jumps into the White House". But the colour of his skin doesn't change the Chinese audience's passion for Obama; Chinese culture is just not a racism-sensitive one. Only Chinese people who have an overseas education would be shocked by this picture.

The Chinese nation has a long history of racial homogeneity. Ninety-nine per cent of rural people in China have never even seen a white or black person in their entire life. People here used to think that white people were albino, hairy or just ghosts, and black people dirty. They would warmly welcome whites and blacks into their homes while joking about their strangeness with fellow Chinese people. It doesn't mean Chinese people want to offend others. We have nothing in our history like black slavery as Americans have. Joking here doesn't trigger misery or pain."