A Chinese detergent commercial showing a black man stuffed into a washing machine and transformed into a fair-skinned Asian has provoked outrage, although more so overseas than at home, where it was greeted with apparent acceptance.
The commercial for the “Qiaobi” brand shows a black man whistling and winking at a young Chinese woman, who calls him over, puts a detergent packet into his mouth, and forces him headfirst into a washing machine.
She sits on the lid while the man shrieks. Moments later an Asian man emerges in clean clothes, and the woman grins.
The advertisement has provoked an uproar on US news websites, which cited it as an example of racist attitudes towards black people in China.
“This ad is blatantly racist... it’s also a reminder that attitudes over race and skin colour in China can be very bad,” said Vox.com
But it has attracted little attention in its home country, with few comments on social media, and fewer than 2,000 views of the same ad on popular video-sharing site Youku.
China has historically experienced almost no migration by people of African descent, although the population has grown in recent years as China has risen to become the continent’s biggest trading partner.
Traditional attitudes prizing white skin in women have contributed to bias against dark-skinned people.
The Shanghai Leishang cosmetics company, which produces the gel-capsule product, did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.
The advert, which was reportedly shown in cinemas earlier this month, uses the same music and sound effects as a previous Italian commercial showing a white man forced into a washing machine and transformed into a black man.
The Italian advert was followed by the slogan, “Coloured is better”.