A petition demanding the axing of the US-based Jimmy Kimmel Live! television show has attracted enough signatories to force a response from the White House, amid continuing outrage over a supposedly anti-Chinese sketch.
More than 101,000 people have signed the petition on the White House website calling for the cancellation of the ABC show which ran a segment in which six-year-olds were asked how to deal with the US federal debt. One boy suggested "everyone in China" should be killed.
China is the biggest holder of US treasury bonds, with debt amounting to US$12.7 billion or US$4,040 for every US citizen.
The segment has triggered protests outside ABC's headquarters, where angry Chinese-Americans held placards likening the 45-year-old comedian to Adolf Hitler. On Thursday, a group of about 400 mostly ethnic Chinese demonstrated outside Kimmel's office in Burbank, California, according to CCTV.
A minimum of 100,000 signatories are required to oblige the White House to respond to a petition on its website. The Kimmel petition reached that mark about two weeks ahead of a one-month deadline set by the White House.
Both ABC and Kimmel have apologised repeatedly for the October 16 segment.
But an organisation representing 100 Chinese-American groups is still not satisfied. It has called for a nationwide protest against ABC today in 27 cities, including a rally outside the network's headquarters.
Charles Lu, chairman of the Roundtable of Chinese American Organisations, said he wanted a formal apology from ABC, not just to the groups protesting, but to all Chinese people around the world. "We know ABC has issued an apology, but that is not enough," Lu said on Thursday. "We want ABC to make a formal apology to all Chinese and do something in the future to avoid terrorist violence."
Last week, ABC issued the following statement: "We offer our sincere apology. We would never purposefully broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of Chinese descent or any community at large. Our objective is to entertain. We took swift action to minimise the distribution of the skit by removing it from all public platforms available to us and editing it out of any future airings of the show."
In the segment, Kimmel responded to the boy's laughing suggestion by saying deadpan: "That's an interesting idea." He followed up a bit later in the segment by asking: "Should we allow the Chinese to live?" The children then debated the idea of killing all Chinese people to avoid paying the US debt.