A Chinese company was forced to issue an apology after its television ad for its Qiaobi detergent created a furor over the issue of racism in China, especially in the United States and in other parts of the world.

The ad, which first appeared in Chinese social media in March, showed a black man transformed into a white Asian man after the woman he was flirting with smeared him with the detergent and stuffed his body inside a top-loading washing machine.

The company, Shanghai Leishang Cosmetics Ltd. Co., issued a statement late Saturday, saying it strongly shuns and condemns racial discrimination. However, it blamed foreign media for making a big deal out of the ad and blowing it out of proportion.

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The airing of the Qiaobi detergent ad was stopped after media reports of protests emerged online.

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“We express regret that the ad should have caused a controversy.” “But we will not shun responsibility for controversial content”, the AP reports.

“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,” the company statement further read.

An official for the company was quoted by the Chinese newspaper The Global Times saying critics of the ad are “too sensitive.”

Meanwhile, an advertising publication, Campaign Asia-Pacific, has received a statement from Li Jun, Vice President for branding at Qiaobi, which said that “the creative process…used a little artistic exaggeration. It was merely for comic effect; there was no intention to stir up emotions or show disrespect to other nationalities.”

The detergent ad stirred anew issues of racism in China, where minimal reactions to the advertisement were received compared to the strong negative reactions it generated in the United States and in other parts of the world.