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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 December, 2004, 17:24 GMT
Nike apologises to China for ad
Chinese security guard walks past a Nike ad featuring US basketball star LeBron James entitled 'Chamber of Fear' in Beijing, China
Many firms are trying to capitalise on basketball's popularity in China
Sportswear giant Nike has apologised for a TV advert that was banned by China for being "blasphemous".

The ad shows US basketball player LeBron James battling and defeating a cartoon kung-fu master and a pair of dragons.

Nike said the advert meant to emulate the Hong Kong martial arts movies of the 1970s, but China said it offended national dignity.

"Nike did not intend... to offend the people of China or show disrespect to the Chinese culture," the company said.

The video game-style ad, called Chamber of Fear starring the NBA's James, was broadcast on Chinese television before being pulled last month.

China's state administration for radio, film and television said 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.

Tight controls

The regulator did not say why the ad was offensive but communist officials may have been angered that it showed the foreigner winning the fight, the Associated Press said.

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

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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