China Declares War on Western Brands for Using Asian Models

( Breitbart )

The Chinese Communist Party is waging an increasingly hysterical – and, thanks to its dangerous economic leverage, largely successful – war against Western companies for using Asian models in their advertisements.

The opening shots in the war were fired in November when Chinese state media savaged French fashion house Christian Dior for placing a photo of a Chinese woman holding one of its handbags at a Shanghai art show.

The photo – which was taken by a Chinese photographer – supposedly made “Chinese consumers feel uncomfortable” because the model had “spooky eyes, gloomy face, and Qing Dynasty-styled nail armor.”

French fashion brand #Dior continued to face a lingering controversy on Chinese social media over a recent photo accused of smearing the image of #Chinese women, with some Chinese netizens demanding an explanation from @Dior as well as the photographer. https://t.co/N7KEiXVSEp pic.twitter.com/0w05fnmF3B — Global Times (@globaltimesnews) November 17, 2021

Chinese state news outlets responded to the Dior photo with surprising venom, accusing the company of imposing Western “stereotypes” of Chinese beauty and tradition on their Asian models.

These convoluted theories were heavy on spittle, but light on explanations for why Dior would want to deliberately insult a huge number of potential customers. While Party leadership spun fantastic allegations of racism and cultural imperialism, most of the average Chinese “netizens” who contributed to the “controversy” merely criticized the Dior photo as weird and ugly.

Dior removed the photo from the Shanghai exhibit after a few days of pressure, but the Chinese regime was just getting warmed up.

The next target was squinty or exaggeratedly slanted eyes, a crusade that began just before Christmas when a Chinese food brand called Three Squirrels used a model with such eyes to hawk its products.

Three Squirrels insisted it meant no offense and said its model personally prefers to use makeup that accentuates the slant of her eyes, but Chinese state media blasted the company for supposedly following in Dior’s footsteps and playing into the same Western stereotypes of Chinese women.

Once again, no one bothered explaining why a Chinese food company would join a sinister Western campaign to make Chinese women look ugly. Some Chinese academics suggested Three Squirrels underestimated the degree of psychic pain felt by the Chinese public after Dior’s photo triggered them.

The company also got in trouble for using the image of Chinese Communist Party founder Mao Zedong in its ads. Chinese law prohibits using the image of dead Party leaders for commercial purposes.

No sooner had the denunciations of Three Squirrels rolled off the presses than Chinese state media turned against automaker Mercedes-Benz for using a model with narrow, slanted eye makeup in one of its ads.

China’s state-run Global Times on Tuesday quoted some Chinese social media users who thought these sudden “controversies” over advertising images had become absurd and politicized, but a hashtag on social media platform Weibo for trashing Mercedes-Benz still racked up 170 million views in a matter of days.

As with the Three Squirrels imbroglio, some of the commenters did not see any reason to be offended by the Mercedes-Benz image, but they thought it was unappealing. Others got with the Communist Party line.

“The premise is that Chinese cannot let the West shape our aesthetics. For those malicious slander, we should maintain sufficient vigilance and counter-attack,” explained a social media user quoted by the Global Times.

Mercedes-Benz did not make a public comment on the controversy, but it quietly deleted the ad from its Weibo account.

On Wednesday, the Global Times took Italian fashion house Gucci to task for using “an Asian-looking model with small eyes, ‘unconventional’ makeup, an exaggerated nose ring, and a leather whip in her hand.”

“After the poster came under the spotlight on China’s social media platform Sina Weibo, the Global Times found on Wednesday that the luxury brand had hidden the model’s photos on its Weibo account, only showing photos of the bag, while on Twitter both the model and the bag were visible,” the Global Times wrote.

The Chinese Communist paper took this as evidence Gucci has a “guilty conscience” and knew its photo would “irritate the Chinese audience.”

The Global Times found a Chinese academic to cobble together a painfully crude political narrative out of these “Asian Face” controversies:

Zhu Wei, vice director of the Communication Law Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Wednesday that “If we don’t oppose such discriminatory labels, there may be more Western enterprises coming up with these images thinking it’s a ‘key for gaining exposure’.” “Like the term ‘nigger’ can’t appear in a Hollywood movie, in fact, the West knows where our taboo is, but it is still willing to touch upon it,” Zhu said. “This is extremely disrespectful to our culture. The disgust and revulsion expressed by the whole society toward this kind of insult should be heard.” It is time for the West to hear such opposition, which is the simplest sign of the popular will, Zhu said.

Overseas critics have several theories for why the Chinese Communist Party is suddenly so obsessed with “Asian Face” advertising for luxury goods. Some market analysts wonder if the Communists are beating up on fashion designers to make the Chinese public less interested in luxury goods, perhaps because they fear an economic downturn.

Others see the Communists flexing their “sharp power” muscles and slapping around foreign brands just to remind them it can be done, as when a different wave of controversies led to boycott threats against fashion houses in 2019.

If this was the Communist Party’s thinking, it must be pleased with the results, as every one of the foreign fashion houses – and the China-based Three Squirrels food brand – quickly and quietly pulled the “controversial” images.

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