‘I want no smoke with the Chinese’: Cardi B wins fans in China with coronavirus rants

Society & Culture

While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most pop stars to retreat from the public eye, Cardi B, the “Bodak Yellow” rapper from the Bronx who flaunts 61 million followers on Instagram, is rapidly developing a fan base in China with her coronavirus content that features her praising China’s response to the outbreak and calling out xenophobia against Chinese people in the U.S.

In an Instagram Live session on March 21, the chart-topping artist goes on a rant about what she admires the most about China’s approach to the virus.

“Y’all seen that [in] Wuhan, China right now, the coronavirus cases is going lower. But that’s because when they quarantined people, they were spraying s**t in the streets,” she explains. “They were knocking on each door, taking people’s temperature and everybody that had the coronavirus, they were like doing strict quarantine on them. While we’re quarantining at home, what is the [U.S.] government doing?”

Later, the hip-hop star expresses her anger at those who “keep taking jabs at China.” She continues, “China’s crazy, and they are powerful. They are the wrong people you wanna offend. I want no problem with the Chinese. A lot of y’all keep saying funny s**t in the comments. I want no smoke with the Chinese coz they are smart and quick.”

In another Instagram video on March 22, Cardi B takes on the topic of xenophobia, saying that everyone should feel guilty about “little white jokes” because China “is not a nation that people wanna f**k with.”

“Ask yourself, do you really want smoke with China? First of all, a lot of people owe money to China because they do everything,” the rapper says. “That’s a very patriotic country. They are ready to die for the country.”

Unsurprisingly, not everyone agreed with Cardi B’s views. In response to a critic, the rapper took to Twitter to explain what she learned from China’s quarantine practices.

While the rapper didn’t specify which documentary she watched, many Twitter users guessed that it’s likely the one produced by CGTN, the English-language news channel run by Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television.

The fact that Twitter and Instagram are blocked in China didn’t stop these posts from making their way onto the Chinese internet. On Weibo, @CardiBArchive, a fan account devoted to the rapper, shared all of her coronavirus-related content with Chinese translations. The seemingly pro-China tone have delighted Chinese internet-goers, who have responded with a host of memes and hashtags in favor of the artist.

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Meanwhile, a video of Cardi B venting her frustrations and fears about the coronavirus was picked by a Guangdong-based TV channel, which used it in a news segment (in Chinese) to illustrate how people in the U.S. are concerned about the pandemic. After the clip was brought to her attention, Cardi B made posts on both Instagram and Twitter to celebrate her newfound stardom in Chinese media. “BITCH I DEAD DONE MADE IT IN THE CHINESE NEWS!” reads her Instagram caption.

Given Cardi B’s track record of being outspoken on public and political issues, it would be a stretch to say that the content was a calculated move on the artist’s part. But it’s widely known that for Western acts hoping to crack China’s entertainment market, their political views regarding China issues matter more than talent. Even a minor offense — like American singer Katy Perry waving a Taiwanese flag and wearing a sunflower dress in a Taipei concert — could result in a ban on performing in the country.

Cardi B’s huge popularity surge in China has people asking: how long before she begins playing shows there?