China may be emerging as one of the world's superpowers but some of its citizens clearly have a long way to go in accepting its mixed-race population. A contestant on DragonTV's reality show 'Let's Go! Oriental Angel' exposed deep feelings about racial mixing.
Contestant Lou Jing's mother is from Shanghai and her father is an African American, she was raised in China by her mother. Lou Jing's appearance on the show sparked a stream of racist comments on the net which included her being labeled the black chimpanzee.
As recently as the 1970s, foreigners were largely barred from living in China, let alone marrying a local. China does not easily accept mixed-race children as true-blooded Chinese: as soon as a child is born, the parents are required to register with the authorities as to which of
the 56 government-approved ethnic groups their child belongs; there are no mixed-race categories.
As China undergoes an astonishing demographic shift
more foreigners make their homes in the Middle Kingdom, Lou Jing is by no means the only one being treated differently. Recent decades have seen a surge in the number of mixed-race couples. Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau data show that from 1994 to 2008, each year
there has been about 3,000 more mixed race marriages in Shanghai.
'As China continues to open up, this kind of phenomenon will become ever more prevalent,' said David Zweig, a professor of humanities and social sciences at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
'This is part of the process of internationalisation, but we can only hope that Chinese people, including netizens and the people whose views tend towards extremism, can come to accept that there are many mixed-race people, both in China and worldwide.'
Last year, Ding Hui, a young man of African-Chinese ethnicity, caused a stir when he was called up to the national volleyball team, prompting much soul-searching about whether the athlete should be allowed to represent China alongside pure-blooded Chinese competitors. Eventually, Ding Hui did go on to play for the national team.
It may take some citizens in China time to be more accepting of mixed-race individuals and families but there are also many who welcome them, for all the nasty comments that were left on the net there were also many positive ones with some referring to her as the Chinese Halle Berry.
As for Lou Jing, she found the whole experience more than a little disturbing. She did well in the show, ranking in the top 30 contestants before she was eliminated. She's now back to her life as a college junior and well aware that there are some who don't accept her racial background. 'It's really scary to find out how the colour of my skin can cause such a big controversy,' she said in an interview.