Join our Mailing List

"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Fiat to keep running ad featuring actor Richard Gere in Tibet despite apology to China

June 25, 2008

The Associated Press
June 23, 2008

ROME: Fiat said Monday it will keep running an ad featuring actor
Richard Gere and a reference to Tibet that has angered some in China
and prompted the Italian automaker to issue an apology.

Gere, a Buddhist who has been active in the movement to free Tibet,
appears in the TV ad for Fiat's new Lancia Delta, using the car to
whiz from Hollywood to the snows of the Himalayas, where he plays
with a group of young Buddhist monks.

Fiat said in a statement Friday that casting Gere for the ad had not
been a "political choice" and was not driven by the desire to
"interfere with the internal political system of any country."

The company apologized to China's government and its people for any
offense arising from "misinterpretations of its well-established
position of neutrality."

However, a Fiat spokesman said the company would continue to run the
ad in Italy and would introduce it in other European countries as the
Lancia Delta goes on sale across the continent.

The spokesman, who could not be identified under company policy, said
the ad was not being aired in China, where the car is not on sale.

The video is easily accessible on YouTube and it has generated angry
comments on the Internet and in some of the more sensational corners
of the entirely state-controlled Chinese media.

Gere has been vilified in China for criticizing Beijing's human
rights records and policies toward Tibet, which Chinese communist
troops occupied in 1951. He is also a close supporter and student of
the region's exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, who Beijing says
is a separatist.

Fiat now joins a long list of foreign companies that apologized for
or removed advertisements due to complaints they offended China's
communist government or the Chinese public.

Late in May, French fashion house Christian Dior dropped Sharon Stone
from its Chinese advertisements and released a statement from the
actress apologizing for saying the devastating earthquake that struck
China may have been "karma" for its treatment of Tibet.

AP reporter Christopher Bodeen contributed to this report from Beijing.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank