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Last Updated: Monday, 6 December, 2004, 13:58 GMT
China bans offending Nike advert
Asian youths playing basketball in the street
US firms are trying to profit from the growing popularity of basketball in China
China has banned a "blasphemous" Nike advert in which a US basketball star defeats a cartoon kung-fu master, saying it offends national dignity.

The ad shows LeBron James battling the martial arts expert and a pair of dragons, in a video game-style setting.

The media regulator said it breached rules on upholding "national dignity" and failed to respect China's culture.

The Communist government has been sensitive about the use of Chinese cultural symbols by the West.

The ad, called Chamber of Fear starring the NBA's James, was broadcast on Chinese television before being pulled last month, the Associated Press news agency reported.


The state administration for radio, film and television said on Monday the ad had received "an indignant response from Chinese viewers."

"It also goes against rules that require ads not to contain content that blasphemes national practices and cultures," it added in a statement.

It did not say why the ad was considered offensive but communist officials might have been especially angered that it showed the foreigner winning the fight, AP said.

Maurice Zhou, a spokesman in Shanghai for Nike, said the company "respected the government's decision."

Nike and other US firms are trying to capitalise on the huge popularity of basketball in China and the celebrity of James and other NBA players.

Tighter controls were recently imposed on programming, prohibiting the use of English words and imported programmes that promoted "Western ideology and politics."

Earlier this year, China banned a Norwegian-made computer game involving a spy chasing military secrets because it offended national dignity.

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