A Chinese laundry detergent company at the centre of a controversy over a "racist" advertisement has blamed foreign media for "amplifying" the situation.
Shanghai Leishang Cosmetics said it strongly condemned racial discrimination but blamed foreign media for stirring up the controversy.
The Qiaobi-brand detergent advert, which features a black man being pushed into a washing machine before re-appearing as a light-skinned Asian, first appeared on Chinese social media platform WeChat in March, but was withdrawn after it drew protests this week.
Within the last few days the advert has been watched more than 6.5 million times on YouTube.
Shanghai Leishang Cosmetics wrote in a statement: “We express regret that the ad should have caused a controversy.
“But we will not shun responsibility for controversial content."
It added: “We express our apology for the harm caused to the African people because of the spread of the ad and the over-amplification by the media.
“We sincerely hope the public and the media will not over-read it.”
When speaking to the Chinese nationalist newspaper The Global Times, a Mr Wang of Leishang said the critics were “too sensitive”, and the issue of racial discrimination never came up during the production of the video.
The company has said it has withdrawn links to the advert, and would like others to stop sharing it online.
In the advert, which was also said to have appeared on television and before movies at Wanda Cinemas, a paint-splattered black man confidently approaches a young Chinese woman, after catcalling her.
When he tries to kiss the woman, she pushes a detergent capsule into his mouth then shoves him head first into the washing machine and closes the lid.
When the cycle finishes, a Chinese man, in a crisp white t-shirt, appears from the washing machine, much to the woman's delight.
According to the Shanghaiist the advert was a "blatant ripoff" of a series of Italian laundry detergent ads that were aired about nine years ago. The advert contained similar racist overtones.
The original advert argued that in fact "Coloured is better". However, in Chinese culture, traditional beauty standards favour white skin.
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