(AFP) – May 29, 2008
BEIJING (AFP) — Hollywood star Sharon Stone has apologised for suggesting China's earthquake was bad "karma" for its handling of Tibet, but Christian Dior on Thursday dropped her from its local ads amid a public uproar.
The 50-year-old US actress offered to help with relief efforts after the May 12 quake that killed nearly 70,000 people, in an effort to smooth over tensions sparked by her controversial comments at the Cannes Film Festival last week.
"My erroneous words and deeds angered and saddened the Chinese people, and I sincerely apologise for this," she said in a statement issued by Dior China and sent to AFP on Thursday.
"I'm willing to participate in any earthquake relief activity and to do my utmost to help Chinese people affected by the disaster," she added.
But Dior said Stone -- who promotes the French luxury brand's anti-ageing skin-care line, among other products -- would no longer appear in its ads in China.
"In light of the negative reaction that Sharon Stone's inappropriate remarks have triggered, Dior China has decided to immediately cancel and stop any advertisements, marketing campaigns and commercial activities associated with Sharon Stone," it said.
Stone -- perhaps best known for her starring role in "Basic Instinct" -- sparked the controversy last week, which has angered people across China and led to pledges by some cinemas here to boycott her films.
"I'm not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else," Stone said, according to footage widely available on YouTube.
"And then all this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and I thought, is that karma -- when you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?"
The remarks sparked an uproar in China, where people are in no hurry to forgive her, according to a survey published on the popular web portal www.qq.com.
Of the more than 300,000 who had participated in the survey by late Thursday, 70.3 percent said they would "never forgive" Stone, while 20.5 percent did not accept her apology because "it was not sincere".
Another 8.7 percent said an apology was useless and it was necessary to observe her actions, while a mere 0.6 percent said they were satisfied by her apology.
Before pulling Stone from its ads, Christian Dior's China branch had already distanced itself from her comments.
"We don't agree with her hasty, unreflecting remarks and we deeply regret them," Dior said in a Chinese-language statement.
"Dior was one of the first international brands to enter China and has won the affection and respect of the consuming public. We absolutely do not support any remark that hurts the Chinese people's feelings.
"We express our sorrow over the compatriots who lost their lives in the earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan, and we extend our sympathy and condolences to the people in the disaster area."
Tibet was rocked by unrest in March. According to aides of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, 203 Tibetans were killed and 1,000 injured in China's subsequent crackdown in the Himalayan region.
But China says Tibetan "rioters" and "insurgents" killed 21 people, and has accused the Dalai Lama of trying to sabotage the Beijing Olympics -- a charge he denies.
On May 12, a massive earthquake struck China's southwest Sichuan province, leaving nearly 88,000 people dead or missing.
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