The people’s newspaperthe official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, on Wednesday published on its website a video dubbed a “satirical piece” showing a head-covering Chinese man pretending to be a member of the Shoshone Indian tribe and condemning America of “genocide.” accused. ”
The video promotes a year-long campaign by the party, now itself a genocide against East Turkestan’s indigenous people, to accuse America of human rights abuses in order to discredit any criticism of China’s miserable human rights record. China’s record is particularly egregious against indigenous communities in areas where Han Chinese are not a majority, such as East Turkistan, occupied Tibet and Inner Mongolia, where dictator Xi Jinping has banned the teaching of local languages and suppressed religious and cultural practices.
Chinese government media have also featured a growing number of offensive depictions of foreign cultures in visual propaganda, sparking global outrage after showing Chinese performers in “blackface” on two separate occasions during state television’s annual Lunar New Year extravaganza.
The “satirical piece” posted online Wednesday, which contained no apparent jokes, contained a people’s newspaper Personality interviews the man about American nuclear weapons testing in the western United States in the 1950s. The man appears on the screen and sulks, whereupon the people’s newspaper Hostess, a woman, asks, “Hey, what’s up? Why so sad?”
“The American government has conducted nuclear tests on our territory,” replies the “native.” “This is genocide!”
The man continues, speaking in the voice of a Shoshone tribesman: “The health of my fellow tribesmen is devastated. Many locals suffered from developmental delays, leukemia and various types of cancer.”
“It’s so disgusting,” the woman replies.
At one point during the “satirical play” the slogan “The basis of the founding of the United States was the genocide of the Indians” appears on screen. The piece also claims that “American media”, without elaborating, calls Shoshone country “the most heavily bombed country on earth”.
“From the rights of Native Americans to the treatment of Black Americans, the US is a pseudo-human rights defender that actually disregards human rights in practice,” reads the video’s caption.
The Shoshone are a large tribe made up of several communities throughout Nevada and Idaho. Perhaps the most prominent Shoshone historical figure outside of the Native American community is Sacagawea, the leader who helped European explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark map the territory acquired through the Louisiana Purchase.
The people’s newspaper gave no indication that members of the Shoshone community were involved in the production of the video.
Native American ethnic groups do not typically use headgear as casual wear. The items can have tremendous significance, either as religious and ceremonial items, or to be worn in times of war or other major changes. Historical photographs of Shoshone people do not appear to show headgear worn casually, nor do photographs of Shoshone headgear bear any apparent resemblance to the item people’s newspaper Actor wore in the video.
Native American activists have for years condemned the wearing of headgear as a fashion statement or costume by people outside of their community.
“Costumes that mock Native Americans, defame our traditions and cultures, and perpetuate negative stereotypes are racist,” said IllumiNative, a group that defines its goal of “challenging the negative narrative that” surrounds Native Americans, last year in response to a Real housewives Celebrity wearing a headdress in the Bravo program. “‘Playing Native Americans’ is a form of mascot work that is not only offensive, but part of a long history of dehumanizing Native peoples.”
Native American organizations have also objected to the mass marketing of headgear for profit. In 2012, the Navajo Nation sued retailer Urban Outfitters over a line of products that were marketed as “Navajo” clothing with no connection to the indigenous community, with no profits going to the alleged creators of the designs.
The Chinese Communist Party regularly uses ethnic and racial minorities in America as a bludgeon to condemn America for monitoring China’s rampant human rights abuses, including atrocities such as slavery, live organ harvesting and genocide. Last year, in a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Politburo member Yang Jiechi cited the Black Lives Matter movement as delegitimizing America as a human rights voice.
“On human rights, we hope that the United States will do better on human rights. China has made steady progress on human rights, and the fact is that there are many human rights problems in the United States, which is also acknowledged by the US itself,” Yang claimed. “The human rights challenges facing the United States are profound. They didn’t just come into being in the last four years, like “Black Lives Matter”. It didn’t appear recently.”
Blinken and Sullivan reportedly did not question the Chinese official regarding his claims, although there is no significant evidence that Chinese officials have made efforts to improve the country’s human rights record.
China’s record of racism toward Africans is paltry, as is its record of discrimination against indigenous communities. In 2018, China’s state-run CCTV station aired a Lunar New Year program in which “black-faced” Chinese pretended to be Africans who love the Communist Party. The sketch, like the “satirical play” about Native Americans, featured Chinese speaking on behalf of entire African communities and praising China for its supposed help with development.
Instead of apologizing for the international offense caused by the “blackface” skit, CCTV again showed Han Chinese in black face paint pretending to be African in the 2021 version of its Lunar New Year special.
Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.