Bryanboy Controversy Grows Over Restaurant’s Racist Posters


Bryanboy Controversy Grows Over Restaurant’s Racist Posters

As coronavirus has spread around the world, people of Asian heritage have reported facing greater hostility.

But fashion influencer Bryanboy said he was shocked to find “racist” images on the walls of a Stockholm restaurant.

“It wasn’t until we placed our order that we noticed all the huge posters on the wall — an illustrated portrait of a very yellow Xi Jinping with bat ears and the term ‘BAT MAN’,” he said.

The restaurant has since removed the posters.

Restaurant Riche, in the Swedish capital, said many people had found the exhibition “disturbing and racist, which was of course not the intention”, adding that it “sincerely apologise[s] to anyone that was offended”.

The artist behind the poster, who publishes work under the name Iron Art Works, said they apologised for any offence caused, but not for the image itself.

“I would not have done it in the first place If I did not stand behind it. I still do,” they told the BBC via email. “I don’t want to hurt people of course, that is not my intention at all.”

Bryanboy, whose real name is Bryan Yambao, was dining at the restaurant in the Swedish capital with a friend from Hong Kong on Saturday. He wrote on Instagram that he was “mortified” when he saw the posters.

“Ever since Covid happened, me and pretty much a lot of the Asian people I know have gone through so much racist and xenophobic abuse on the internet,” Mr Yambao, who is Filipino, told the BBC. “So to see it in real life was kind of surreal.”

He added that he had already ordered food but “couldn’t wait to get out of the restaurant”.

The artwork features the Chinese president as “Bat Man” – in an apparent reference to the theory that the coronavirus may have originated in bats – in front of a Japanese-style rising sun. It was installed in the restaurant several weeks ago.

The first cases of coronavirus were recorded in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, but the virus has since spread around the world.

The pandemic has led to a wave of racism, xenophobia and even violence directed towards people of Chinese ethnicity, as well as people of East Asian appearance. In one case in London, a student from Singapore was beaten by a group of men who allegedly said: “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country.”

“Almost every day I get comments, just because I’m Asian, linking me with Covid,” said Mr Yambao. “And it’s not just online – these images have real-life repercussions, because they create a hostile environment for Asians and it normalises racism and xenophobia against them.”

The artist said on Instagram that their work was not intended to be racist, and their previous art included satirical depictions of a number of world leaders.

“My intention was only to make a fool of Xi [Jinping]/CCP [Chinese Communist Party] NOT to make a racist comment that hurt a lot of people, but I accidentally did, and I again apologise to you who feel that way,” they wrote in an Instagram post.

Bryanboy Controversy Grows Over Restaurant’s Racist Posters


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