There is a prevalence of prejudiced content against Black people on Chinese social media platforms, according to new research.
Troubling racist patterns: A report published by New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday claims that major platforms including Bilibili, Douyin, Kuaishou, Weibo and Xiaohongshu have disturbing racist videos that target Black individuals, often portraying them through offensive racial stereotypes. The watchdog said it uncovered troubling patterns of racism and discrimination after examining hundreds of videos posted on Chinese social media since 2021.
From harmful stereotypes to dangerous threats: One purportedly prevalent type of video that draws thousands of likes and shares depicts people in African nations as underprivileged or unsophisticated. In these clips, Chinese content creators often portray themselves as benefactors.
Last year, a BBC Africa Eye documentary exposed a Chinese man who paid Malawian children to chant racist remarks.
Another disturbing trend highlighted by the new report involves racist and misogynistic commentary toward interracial relationships, particularly between Black men and Chinese women. Content that shows Chinese women posting photos with their Black partners is often accompanied by online harassment, including death threats and doxing. HRW’s study also underscored the potential for online hate speech to escalate into real-world violence.
Addressing the issue: HRW pointed out that while Beijing’s censorship policies, widely known as the Great Firewall, rigorously control online content, most racist posts seem to evade scrutiny. Additionally, Chinese social media users who speak out against anti-Black content or express support for victims are often called traitors online.
Community guidelines: HRW raised questions about the platforms’ commitment to their “published community standards and guidelines banning content promoting racial or ethnic hatred and discrimination.” In its report, HRW called attention to the inadequate response from the platforms themselves, asserting that their policies are insufficient to tackle certain problems effectively.
Yaqiu Wang, a senior China researcher at HRW, emphasized that these platforms and the local authorities must do more to uphold their human rights responsibilities.
“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 was quoted saying. “Beijing should recognize that undertaking investments in Africa and embracing China-Africa friendship won’t undo the harm caused by unaddressed racism.”