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Ads featuring African children to promote Chinese products prove controversial

(People's Daily Online)    17:07, August 07, 2017

Chinese enterprises have found a new way to promote their products: hiring African children to make advertisements. However, the move has irritated the public, who fear that the kids may receive negative influence or even be exploited.

A search for “ads featuring children” on China’s largest online shopping platform Taobao yields dozens of results. Chinese enterprises can purchase such video advertisements to help promote their products in Chinese. In addition, African children also make blessing or apology videos, in which they say congratulate or apologize for specific reasons.

According to Beijing Youth Daily, most of the videos are taken by Chinese citizens living in African countries. The video clips are mainly limited to 20 seconds, with five to ten African children in one clip. A 20-second video clip can be purchased for between 150 to 200 yuan, while thousands of such products can be sold online each month.

“Though we charge 220 yuan for each video clip, we only earn 30 yuan, because the rest of the money will be given to the kids,” an online video seller told Beijing Youth Daily.

But such remarks have been denounced by many insiders, who claim that hiring African children to make ads has formed a new industry that brings little benefit to the children.

“The children get very little money from shooting such ads. Most of them just get some snacks or stationary as rewards,” an anonymous source told the People’s Daily Online.

In addition to possible exploitation, many video clips featuring African children contain inappropriate wording and bombastic slogans, such as “best brand known ever by Africans.” Many netizens have expressed their discontent over the issue, questioning if such a practice could impose a bad influence on the children.

“These children don’t know buyers’ intentions; they only follow orders and read lines. I don’t think [inappropriate words] would affect them,” a video maker told the Beijing Youth Daily.

The controversial promotional method has stirred up heated debate online, with many Chinese netizens boycotting the service, noting that such practice is “exploitation and disrespectful.”

Some others expressed a different opinion, saying that shooting ads is legal and the children can earn some money or food for their performance.

In response to the videos sold online, Taobao told Beijing Youth Daily that such third-party services could be problematic, as they may violate China’s advertisement laws. The company also promised to carry out a thorough check on such content, adding that any ads violating Chinese laws will not be tolerated.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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