In 2017, BBC Africa journalist Runako Celina discovered that Chinese content creators living in Africa were exploiting children by filming them performing explicit acts, dancing inappropriately, and even saying racist things about themselves.
That video content was then being distributed to Chinese subscribers willing to pay between $10-70 US dollars per video.
Why has this gone unchecked for so long? Will these “content creators” face punishment for their acts against children? The Shade Room investigates…
Celina told The Shade Room of the disturbing trend which has become quite popular in the country, where Chinese social media users can purchase customized videos featuring African children, for everything from good luck videos to happy birthday videos.
“These Children Are Unwittingly Demeaning Themselves” BBC Africa Journalist Says
However, the content is not as innocent as it may seem, with Celina telling TSR Investigates “don’t be fooled.”
“Africans, Black Africans in particular, are the chosen starts of these videos, and they often have no idea why they’re being filmed” Celina said. “These children are demeaning themselves, and they have no what they’re saying at all.”
Celina says the producers of such content are typically adult men.
In one video, a group of African children can be seen holding up a sign, which reads “we will always stay in Africa” in Chinese. In another video, the children are captured saying “yellow skin and dark eyes are the most beautiful color.”
“I’m A Black Monster, My IQ Is Low” Children Are Told To Say In Chinese
And in yet another clip, young girls dance provocatively and kiss. But one video stood out to Celina in particular.
“This video is one of the most hideous content in this industry. The children are saying in Chinese, ‘I’m a Black devil/monster’ and ‘my IQ is low,” she said.
Celina said when she confronted a man who produces this kind of content, he admitted that he simply “likes it” while attempting to spin the narrative, telling her that he’s teaching these children Chinese culture and traditions.
China’s Strange Fascination With Black People
“From my time living in China as a Black woman, there is some kind of strange fascination with Blackness.”
The videos are said to rake in billions for Chinese video companies, and although international furor created a push to have the videos removed from Chinese platforms, they were eventually put back online again, according to Alexandria Williams, another Black journalist who worked for one of the video companies in question.
“It’s such a huge genre, the fascination with Black people in China,” Williams told TSR Investigates.
For their part, Chinese content creators have defended the videos, claiming they actually help local people and promote a relationship between China and Africa.
Parents Tried To Keep Kids Away, But Content Creators Kept Luring Them Back To Perform
Celina and a forensic digital investigator eventually located one Chinese man, Lu Ke, who has become one of the biggest producers of such content. The Chinese national, who lives in the southeast African country of Malawi, is called “su su,” or “uncle” by villagers in the area.
The man would pay young Black children a dollar, or sometimes food, to unwittingly participate in the racist videos. When Celina showed such videos to the children’s families, they became visibly upset.
“I tried to take my child away,” one parent said, “but they would just come back, day after day, and give him chicken, telling him to ‘keep on performing.'”
Celina’s investigation found that in a single day, 380 videos were produced, earning the video makers tens of thousands of American dollars.
An undercover BBC journalist posing as a potential buyer was told by Lu Ke that the children “do what they have to and then leave, and come back the next day, that’s how they are.”
Zambia🇿🇲 has extradited racist Chinese🇨🇳 filmmaker Lu Ke back to Malawi🇲🇼to face charges relating to racism and child exploitation.
Lu Ke had been making racist videos featuring African kids in Malawi then posting them to Chinese social media for entertainment and income. pic.twitter.com/h8MjxtxVyf
— Africa Updates (@africaupdates) July 17, 2022
Chinese Content Creator Now Faces Charges Of Child Exploitation And Racism
However, justice may be served in at least one case of racist Chinese content creation.
The BBC reported on Monday that Lu Ke, the Chinese man in Malawi responsible for much of the racist video content, was just extradited to the country from Zambia to face charges of racism and child exploitation.
Malawian authorities launched an investigation into Lu Ke in June. Lu Ke, who was detained last month in Zambia and fined for entering illegally, denied making derogatory videos, and maintained he made them in order to spread Chinese culture to the local community.
Malawi’s Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda confirmed to the BBC that Lu Ke has been extradited and will appear in court on Monday.
TSR Investigates explores cold cases and special interest news stories underrepresented in mainstream media.