The Chinese company behind the racist detergent commercial that provoked outrage this week said foreign critics need to lighten up.
The ad for the Qiaobi brand shows a black man winking at a young Chinese woman, who calls him over and puts a detergent packet into his mouth.
The Chinese woman then stuffs him into a washing machine and sits on the cover. Not long after the black man is transformed into a fair-skinned Asian.
“We meant nothing but to promote the product, and we had never thought about the issue of racism,” a spokesman for the Leishang cosmetics company, which produces the detergent, told China’s Global Times.
“The foreign media might be too sensitive about the ad,” the spokesman added.
He said a shorter version of the commercial was broadcast in China, which did not feature the black actor. He said the company has no idea how the full-length clip ended up online.
The advertisement became viral and angered many people, particularly United States news websites. The commercial was cited 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 color in China can be very bad,” said explainer site Vox.com.
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But the commercial itself didn’t attract much attention in China, with few comments on social media. It also has less than 2,000 views of the same ad on popular video-sharing site Youku.
In China, traditional attitudes preferring white skin in women have contributed to bias against dark-skinned people.
China has experienced almost no migration by people of African descent.
In recent years, though, the population has grown as China has risen to become the continent’s economic powerhouse.