China’s incredibly racist laundry ad went global last week and now some are wondering whether it will have any negative effects on global politics; however, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued its first statement on the ad, reassuring everyone that China and Africa remain “good brothers.”
The infamous advertisement for Qiaobi-brand laundry detergent was circulated around on WeChat early on Thursday. By the end of the day, it had become a viral sensation, hitting the top of Reddit, garnering over 2 million views on YouTube and being featured in articles by major international publications around the world.
In the video, a paint-splattered black man confidently approaches a young Chinese woman, only to have detergent placed in his mouth and his body shoved into a washing machine for a thorough rinsing. Once the wash cycle is done, out pops a pristine young Chinese man, as clean as can be.
After at first throwing the toys out of the pram and declaring foreign media “too sensitive,” Shanghai-based Leishang cosmetics company, which produces the Qiaobi-brand detergent, apparently hired a PR firm and developed a coherent response to the controversy. “We had no intention of discriminating against people of color. The color of one’s skin is not the standard by which we should judge each other. We strongly oppose and condemn racial discrimination,” read the company’s apology statement released on Saturday.
When asked during a regular Q&A session on Monday if any African countries had lodged official complaints to China about the ad, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying acknowledged that she had seen reports about the ad and had read the company’s apology. She said that it was an “isolated case” involving “inappropriate behavior of a commercial company” that had not provoked any diplomatic complaints.
“As far as I know, no country has lodged protest with us. It is clear for all to see that China treats all countries as equals and with respect. We are good brothers with African countries, and we have sound communication and cooperation with them on international political and economic issues. Therefore, I hope that people can stop intentionally exaggerating this case,” she said.
While China has frequently faced accusations of embarking on a neo-imperialist adventure in Africa, looking to do nothing more than secure oil and other natural resources, it has also played a helpful role in creating jobs and improving infrastructure across the continent.
Thousands of Africans have moved to China since the early 2000s. In Guangzhou alone, there are at least 200,000 Africans living and working in the city. Many arrive there without the backing of a corporation or their home country and so marry Chinese women in order to register a company in their name.
A large number of these African immigrants engage in export trading, buying up huge quantities of Chinese goods and shipping them back to their home countries. However, China’s growing influence has bred resentment back home in many African countries. So much so that internet rumors that the Chinese were shipping cans of human flesh for Africans to eat gained enough traction that the Chinese ambassador in Zambia was forced to issue a statement refuting the insane rumors.
Hey, even best bros fight from time to time.
Ok, you definitely should have seen this video by now… watch it again?