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Chinese New Year 2021 – China sparks racism storm for using dancers in blackface during gala performance

CHINA has sparked a racism storm after using dancers in blackface for a Chinese New Year performance.

It is the second time in three years the country's state TV has included the dancers to portray Africans for a holiday gala.

The African Song and Dance performance on Thursday came at start of the Spring Festival Gala shown on TV.

It included Chinese dancers in African-style costumes and dark face makeup beating drums.

The five-hour annual program, which state TV has said in the past is seen by as many as 800 million viewers, also included tributes to nurses, doctors and others who fought the coronavirus pandemic that began in central China last year.

China's ruling Communist Party tries to promote an image of unity with African nations as fellow developing economies.

But China Central Television has faced criticism over using blackface to depict African people in past New Year broadcasts.

On Twitter, Black Livity China, a group for people of African descent who work in or with China, called the broadcast extremely disappointing.

It noted that CCTV's 2018 Spring Festival Gala featured performers in blackface with a monkey.

The group said: "We cannot stress enough the impact scenes such as these have on African and Afro-diasporic communities living in China."

Festivities for Chinese New Year, normally East Asia's busiest tourism season, have been muted after China, Vietnam, Taiwan and other governments tightened travel curbs and urged the public to avoid big gatherings following renewed virus outbreaks.

Elsewhere in China, Buddhist and Daoist temples usually packed with holiday worshippers were closed.

Streets in major cities were also largely empty for celebrations.

The Commerce Ministry said it found 48 million more people in Chinese cities planned to celebrate Chinese New Year where they live instead of travelling.

Departures from Beijings two major airports were down 75% from last year on Wednesday, the Chinese capital's government reported.

In Taiwan, merchants said this year's sales are up 10%-20% because Taiwanese celebrated at home with family dinners instead of travelling abroad.

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