19:44 GMT26 February 2021
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    The annual programme, which according to state media is extremely popular and is watched by almost a billion people, this year featured tributes to doctors and nurses who fought the coronavirus pandemic.

    China rung in the Lunar Year with grandiose celebrations despite coronavirus restrictions, however, the country has been accused of racism after pictures online showed performers in a TV gala wearing blackface while portraying African dancers and musicians. The state broadcaster, CCTV, was also accused of cultural appropriation as some of the performers were dressed in Spanish and Egyptian costumes.

    ​The performance caused severe criticism online.

    ​Users wondered why the concert's organisers didn't just hire performers of African origin.

    ​Others claimed that Chinese people are very racist and noted this was not the first time that the New Year gala had shown performers wearing blackface.

    ​Many users wondered why activists are not actively condemning Beijing.

    ​One user even offered his services in order to prevent such incidents in the future.

    ​Still others contended that there was nothing offensive about the performance.

    ​Black Livity China, a group of people of African descent who lived, worked, studied, or did business in China described the news as "extremely disappointing".

    ​The group recalled that the 2018 New Year gala too featured a performer wearing blackface. The actress, who portrayed the mother of an African girl, appeared on stage wearing blackface and was accompanied by a monkey.

    Blackface is a form of theatrical makeup used by white performers to portray a black person most often in a caricatured way. It originated and gained popularity in the United States in the middle of the 19th century. By the second half of the 20th century changing attitudes toward race relations in the US made blackface less and less popular, with the term later becoming offensive and disrespectful.

    Tags:
    Cultural Appropriation, Blackface, racism, China
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