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China firm apologizes for racist detergent advertisement

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BEIJING — A Chinese detergent maker has apologised for an advertisement which shows a black man stuffed into a washing machine and transformed into a fair-skinned Asian, just a day after dismissing critics as too sensitive.

The advertisement by the Shanghai Leishang Cosmetics company provoked uproar on US news websites, with commentators citing it as an example of racist attitudes towards black people in China.

Its commercial for the Qiaobi brand shows a black man whistling and winking at a young Chinese woman, who calls him over, puts a detergent packet into his mouth and forces him head-first into a washing machine.

She sits on the lid while the man shrieks — moments later an Asian man emerges in clean clothes and the woman grins.

The advert has been viewed more than seven million times on YouTube in the past three days.

“For the harm caused to the African people because of the spread of the advert and the over-amplification by the media, we express our apology, ” the company said in a statement on an official social media account.

“We sincerely hope the public and the media will not over-read it,” the statement added.

“We express regret that the ad has caused a controversy, but we will not shun responsibility for controversial content.”

The firm said in the statement it had stopped airing the advertisement and deleted links to it.

A spokesman had earlier told China’s Global Times newspaper that the issue of racism had not crossed the company’s mind and “the foreign media might be too sensitive about the ad”.

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The advertisement attracted little attention in China, which has historically experienced almost no settlement by people of African descent.

Traditional attitudes prizing white skin in women have contributed to bias against dark-skinned people.

AFP

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5 dead as gunman attacks churchgoers in Russia

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At least five people were killed and another five were injured when a gunman attacked a crowd of people leaving a church on Sunday in Russia’s southern province of Dagestan, Russian news agencies reported.

The attack occurred in the village of Kizlyar in the Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan.

Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the eastern Orthodox calendar.

CCTV footage from the site of the deadly shooting shows a man armed with a rifle gunning down two women in broad daylight.

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A bearded man clad in a black vest and camouflage pants was seen crossing the street before opening fire on two female churchgoers as they left a service in Kizlyar in the Republic of Dagestan on Sunday afternoon. A woman walking several meters from the attacker was seen rushing away as the bloodshed unfolded.

The attacker was identified as a 22-year-old man local to the region, the TASS news agency said, citing the investigative committee.

He was shot and killed by security services who were on duty nearby, TASS said, adding that a hunting rifle, bullets and a knife were discovered on his person.

Initial reports suggested all five victims were women, TASS said, citing the local branch of the interior ministry.

Agencies

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