Besides the accentuation of the systemic rivalry between the USA and China, one of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the increased global visibility of struggles for racial equality. Despite the centrality of the US and African American communities in these mobilisations, China is not immune to race-related questions, as attested by some recent high-profile episodes. In turn, geopolitics and racial issues cannot be fully separated, as China’s consolidating role of global superpower leads it to intensify its relations with Africa and other parts of the Global South. What role does race play in the interactions between China-based foreign communities and their Chinese hosts? How are these relations changing in the wake of both growing nationalist sentiment and anti-racist mobilisations? What do racial constructs in contemporary China tell us about the specificities of Chinese encounters with other world regions, as well as their likely evolution? And how to make sense of these racialised encounters without falling into the trap of inappropriately projecting Western-derived concepts, while also accounting for the continued centrality of the West in global discourses on race?