In a comedy routine celebrating Chinese-African ties an Asian actress appears in blackface and with exaggerated buttocks.
While the use of non-black actors using make-up to appear dark skinned is widely criticised in Europe and the USA, in China there is less awareness of the offensive connotations of the practice.
Some observers have pointed out that this sketch was not meant to be offensive to the African people.
However, this is not the first time Chinese entertainment shows have caused controversy with their portrayals of other ethnicities.
The variety show, which aired on state media CCTV on Thursday, is one of the biggest TV shows in the world with an audience of up to 800,000 viewers, according to the BBC.
The skit which was criticized as "disgusting" and "completely racist", started with a performance by African dancers.
The sketch involved the Chinese host being asked by a young African woman to pretend to be her boyfriend so she didn't have to participate in a blind date.
China's Lunar New Year television extravaganza, watched by hundreds of millions, was hit by online accusations of racism Friday over a sketch in which a Chinese actor appeared made up as an African woman, with large fake buttocks.
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She entered carrying a plate of fruit on her head, and is accompanied by what is thought to be a black actor in a monkey costume.
Towards the end of the skit, the Chinese actress says China has done so much for Africa, shouting: "I love Chinese people!" The sketch was set against the backdrop of people working on the Nairobi-Mombasa railway project. But what's particularly striking about the whole toe-curling spectacle is that it is also strangely at odds with China's own message.
"Think the Chinese internet would leave that one alone?" Or a sign of something deeper?
But while it seems like China's soft-power project is still a work in progress, every country has its faux pas - as long as there are clueless people. The world's most popular show will find out tonight whether these tactics can fend off competition from smartphones and social media.
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Comments included "it's full of racism", that "it makes me feel like I'm living in the last century", and that "we are going to lose face internationally".
The South China Morning post reported that posts critical on the Chinese social media site Wiebo were being censored.
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