Most of the videos are used for showing affection to someone, sending birthday greetings or business advertising.
In a sample video posted on the WeChat account of a service provider, a dozen African children stand behind a board which says, "If you are looking for a piling service provider, go to find brother Biao, who is well known to all African people."
In the video, the African children also shout the words together in Chinese.
Such videos triggered hot discussion online, with some challenging whether the video violated children's right of portrait or made false advertising.
A client service staffer from Taobao told the Beijing Youth Daily that the service is not provided by Taobao but third parties, and the platform has yet to check whether such videos violate the advertising law and if they do, the service provider will be punished accordingly.
The video vendors on Taobao usually charge around 200 yuan ($29.8) for shooting an over 10-second video in which dozens of children from Africa read aloud a couple of lines in Chinese (usually no more than 20 Chinese characters).
Vendors reached by the Global Times on Monday said most of the children are from Zambia and the children appearing in the videos are different for different clients.
"Each child is paid less than 10 yuan for appearing in one video, since there are a lot of children there," said a service provider identifying himself as "African kids holding banners" on Kuaishou, a Chinese livestreaming mobile application.
"The service fee mostly goes to the Chinese merchant running the service out of Africa, who can make at least 170,000 yuan a day," the seller added.
The waiting list is so long that new clients have to wait for three days after placing an order, unless the client is willing to pay 249 yuan, about 50 yuan higher than the standard rate, for express service, in which case the video can be delivered on the same day, the service provider added.
Apart from African children, white people are also being hired for shooting such videos.
A Taobao vendor named "Creative ape overseas studio" charges up to 1,000 yuan for videos featuring white people, while stressing that they are "not being racist" and explaining that "white people value their right of portrait very much, so the service fee is relatively higher."
This article was originally published by the Global Times.