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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2008, 18:46 GMT
Citroen regrets Mao ad 'insult'
A distorted portrait of Chairman Mao, as featured in a controversial Citroen advert
In the ad, Mao looks disparagingly down at a sporty car
French carmaker Citroen has withdrawn an ad featuring a doctored portrait of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, after complaints it was an insult.

In the ad, carried in Spanish newspaper El Pais, Mao scowls at a hatchback.

"It's true, we are leaders, but at Citroen the revolution never stops," reads the text below the portrait.

Citroen apologised for the "inappropriate" ad, which Chinese chatroom users had complained "hurts our national pride".

"This is no small thing," said one visitor to a chatroom about the ad - based on the famous portrait of Mao which hangs in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

"It has an influence on the whole country. It damages the whole Chinese people."


Another writer pointed out that other national leaders - such as US President George W Bush - had also been made fun of in the media.

Portrait of Mao Zedong hanging in Beijing's Tiananmen Square
The ad was based on this original, which hangs in Tiananmen Square

"But our traditions and customs must nonetheless be respected," the writer added.

Nearly 32 years after his death, Chairman Mao remains revered by some Chinese, despite his promotion of policies such as "Great Leap Forward" which ended in the deaths of millions, and the profound social and economic changes China has since seen.

In a statement, Citroen said it regretted any "displeasure" caused, and said it had ordered the advert to be pulled immediately.

"We repeat our good feelings towards the Chinese people, and confirm that we respect the representatives and symbols of the country," said the statement in Chinese.


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