Nike's 'blasphemous' kung-fu advert kicked off TV
Following an internet outcry, Beijing has imposed a nationwide ban on a Nike television commercial showing US basketball star LeBron James defeating animated Chinese characters.
The 90-second advertisement, which is styled like a kung-fu video game, features the Cleveland Cavaliers forward defeating five challengers - Hype, Temptation, Envy, Complacency and Self Doubt.
Three of the five assailants appear Chinese, with Hype represented by a kung-fu master, Temptation embodied by flying female martial artists who flirt with James, and Complacency represented by a pair of Chinese dragons.
The State Administration of Radio Film and Television said it issued the ban last Friday, adding the commercial had aroused strong resentment among audiences and violated regulations requiring commercials to 'maintain the state dignity and interest, and respect the country's traditional culture'.
The advertisement also contravened rules against content that 'blasphemes ethnic customs and habits', the body said.
Nike's mainland spokesman, Zhou Xiaomeng, said the company respected national laws and attached great importance to the Chinese market. 'We are trying to encourage young people to combat challenges. It's very positive,' Mr Zhou said of the advertisements, part of a campaign entitled 'LeBron James in the Chamber of Fear'.
Last month, another Nike series featuring LeBron James also caused a stir in Singapore.
The advertisements, which resembled graffiti, were at odds with the city-state's fervour for cleanliness, with posters pasted around the city's 700 bus stops generating at least 50 complaints from commuters.