A Chinese official dismissed criticism of a blackface skit aired on state television and said if there was outrage it as an attempt to create division between China and Africa.

A skit broadcast on Chinese state-television last week depicted a Chinese woman in blackface with a fake enlarged butt playing an African woman. The skit came during an annual Lunar New Year variety show that draws one of the largest television audiences in the world. The skit immediately drew criticism, with detractors calling the depiction racist.

On Thursday, Geng Shuang a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said the country is against racism.

“I can tell you that China has always opposed any form of racial discrimination,” said Geng. “I want to say that if there are people who want to seize on an incident to exaggerate matters, and sow discord in China’s relations with African countries, this is a doomed futile effort.”

China has made huge investments in Africa on a variety of real estate and municipal projects. Geng said that the African people know where their relationship stands.

“How relations are between China and Africa and whether or not cooperation is good, African countries and the people of Africa know in their hearts exactly how things stand,” said Geng.

The four-hour television show can draw an estimated 700 million people, according to the Washington Post. The skit highlighted the relationship between China, depicting a high-speed railway that was recently built in Kenya.

The woman in blackface plays the mother of a black actress who fools her by pretending to date a Chinese man to avoid a blind date the mother set up. The skit meant to celebrate the ties between China and Africa ends with the mother not being upset, proclaiming “China has done so much for Africa. I love Chinese people! I love China.”

RTX4X9WA Chinese actor Lou Naiming (C) performs a skit on a Lunar New Year gala in Beijing, China, February 15, 2018. Picture taken February 15, 2018. Photo: REUTERS