Acclaimed television star and pop darling Zhao Wei has defended herself against critics who branded her a traitor for appearing in a fashion magazine wearing a dress emblazoned with a wartime Japanese flag.
Despite improving relations, Ms Zhao's photo shoot in the September issue of Fashion Magazine poured salt on wounds most Chinese still feel from Japan's invasion and the Nanjing Massacre during World War II.
'Why were so many Chinese women raped at the hands of the Japanese? Unless she was physically forced, there is nothing she can say to defend herself,' said a Net surfer on Sina.com.
Nearly 1,000 Chinese have voiced their opinions online, urging a public apology and a boycotting of Ms Zhao's albums, films and TV appearances.
People even began questioning their desire for Japanese cars, electronics and food, many keen to boycott all Japanese goods.
But in a statement released to Sina.com through her manager, Chen Rong, Ms Zhao asserted that even if people were upset with the photographs, she should not be blamed for poor judgment.
'The magazine is controlled by the State Information and Press Bureau. Could anything that was truly so militaristic actually have been approved and published?' the statement read.
In addition to noting that the Japanese flag dress was one of many she wore, and that the dress was also emblazoned with positive Chinese characters meaning health, peace, prosperity and hygiene, Ms Zhao said she, too, was concerned: 'I was a little suspicious when I saw the Japanese flag pattern. But a designer from New York explained that this was a new American design. Perhaps he didn't really understand Chinese history.'
Ms Zhao denied she was promoting militarism and said she was proud to be the granddaughter of revolutionaries who fought Japanese wartime aggression.