It’s fascinating looking at representations of Africans in Chinese CCP propaganda from the 60s and early 70s. During this time period, China saw itself standing in solidarity in a class struggle with POC in Africa, Asia and Latin America against white-led American and European imperialism. The CCP also saw itself as having led a revolution which could be modeled by the peoples of these nations. Representations of Africa in the propaganda of this era therefore show tremendous camaraderie and brotherhood, presenting a united front against Western imperialism and colonization.
At the same time, though, these images are also steeped in a deep sense of racialized paternalism, which the last image, “Saviour” speaks tremendously to as well. This was due in part to the fact that the CCP’s revolution came earlier and was therefore the model revolution which they were “teaching” to Africans, but it also played directly upon antiblack stereotypes of African people as explicitly primitive (see the poster in which the “silver needle of friendship” is passed) and requiring the stewardship of the Chinese CCP in their march toward freedom in their own countries. The paternalism evident in the “friendship” is clear and plays into these racist, demeaning tropes, raising up a Chinese (rather than white) savior for African peoples in the face of Mao ZeDong.
These images are therefore interesting in the ways they evoke a sense of global POC solidarity against white-led imperialist forces from America and Europe, portray African leaders in a positive and noble light, generally work to show brotherhood between Chinese and African peoples, but then also plays to racist tropes like the “noble savage” trope and positions Africans and other POC in the developing world in solidarity but ultimately under Chinese CCP stewardship with a Chinese savior (Mao ZeDong) who “gets” their struggle, rather than a white one— but still a demeaning, paternalistic savior nonetheless.
Very interesting images to examine, especially for those interested in the history of relationships between Africans and Chinese people, and all of this come courtesy of chineseposters.net’s amazing article “Foreign Friends: African Friends.”