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    May 31, 2016

    Qiaobi apologises for "racist" laundry ad


    THE company behind the Chinese commercial showing an African man being shoved into a washing machine by a young Chinese woman and re-emerging as a Chinese male has apologised, while Chinese netizens are split on whether "racism" underlies the making of the ad.

    "The creative process was meant to add a bit of delight by using a little artistic exaggeration," the Asia-Pacific Campaign media-watching magazine quoted Li Jun, vice president of branding at Qiaobi, as saying in a statement.

    "It was merely for comic effect; there was no intention to stir up emotions or show disrespect to other nationalities," the statement added.

    Qiaobi is a subsidiary of Shanghai Leishang Cosmetics, which specialises in the making of laundry gel balls.

    The Qiaobi ad, which was first aired in China in March, went viral across the world after it appeared in a video website in the West last week, sparking an avalanche of criticisms of what was seen to be a blatant display of Chinese racism towards the blacks.

    The ad had been withdrawn following the uproar.

    But many Chinese netizens in Weibo, China's most popular microblogging site, viewed the criticisms as over-reactions from people who are over-sensitive, priggish and self-righteous.

    Others advised the foreign critics to cool down, saying the ad was just an artistic production.

    More than a few opined that "political correctness" is too much of a hang-up in the West and it should have no business in China.

    But there were also many who screamed "racism", with one asking if Chinese people would not feel hurt if a Chinese man is shown being thrown into a washing machine by a Caucasian man to get him "whitened".

    According to an article published by the Hong Kong-based Initium Media, "systemic racism" does not exist in China, but many Chinese do feel a sense of superiority towards Africans, especially following the rise of China as an economic giant.

    Citing the widespread worry in Guangzhou over the influx of Africans, Initium pointed out that the southern Chinese city has a website visited mainly by local females called "the Black Siege".

    Meanwhile, majority of Chinese seem to be more concerned about the ad being a rip-off of an Italian one made in 2006, which showed a white man being turned into a black and concluded with the end line "coloured is better".

    "The storyline, the background music and even the storyboard are identical. Chinese plagiarism really sucks," commented one Weibo netizen.