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Chinese New Year 2018

Chinese New Year 2018

The sketch was broadcast from the CCTV Spring Festival Gala, an annual variety show, watched by over 800 million people.

The sketch ended with the mother expressing Africa's love for China and the Chinese people in Chinese.

The skit's intent was to promote Africa's role in China's "One Belt One Road" (OBOR) program, which was initially meant to connect Beijing to Europe through the ancient silk road, but has since expanded to include significant investment in Africa and Latin America. The sketch was set around people working on the Nairobi-Mombasa railway project.

However, this is not the first time Chinese entertainment shows have caused controversy with their portrayals of other ethnicities.

China's TV gala has become as much a part of the spring festival tradition as dumplings and lanterns. But what's particularly striking about the whole toe-curling spectacle is that it is also strangely at odds with China's own message.

However, when faced with the suggestion that it's involved in neo-colonialism, China insists that it comes not to exploit, but in partnership with and for the mutual benefit of its African partners. And was that a Chinese woman in blackface with a fake posterior?

Simply naive and clumsy?

But while it seems like China's soft-power project is still a work in progress, every country has its faux pas - as long as there are clueless people.

Chinese New Year 2018

Image copyright Youtube/CCTV Image caption Celebrating Chinese-African ties?

She's accompanied by a monkey, which is played by...

While the use of non-black actors using make-up to appear dark skinned is widely criticised in Europe and the U.S., in China there is less awareness of the offensive connotations of the practice.

One Twitter user said the performance "ruined my Chinese New Year", adding: "I feel ashamed for my country thinking that this is okay".

The South China Morning post reported that posts critical on the Chinese social media site Wiebo were being censored.

In 2016, a laundry detergent advertisement saw a black man have his skin colour scrubbed off, causing outrage both within and outside China.

At one point, an Asian actress appeared on stage in blackface - a practice that satirises black people - and wearing a pair of exaggerated buttocks.

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