The creators of “South Park” have issued a mock apology to China after censors scrubbed their popular animation from the Chinese web.
The tongue-in-cheek statement, skewering Beijing’s demands that western brands conform to its world view, came with officials apparently annoyed about an episode that crossed several of the Communist Party’s red lines.
The episode — called “Band in China” — depicted forced labour at a Chinese prison, and parodied companies that cave-in to censorship for commercial gain.
“I can’t sell my soul like this,” says one character, who was under pressure from Chinese censors to rewrite his music.
“It’s not worth living in a world where China controls my country’s art,” he added.
The incident comes as the NBA and its Houston Rockets franchise are facing fierce criticism and financial punishment in China over a tweet supporting Hong Kong’s democracy protesters.
Both the league and the team have scrambled to apologise over the tweet by Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey, as calls for a boycott gather steam in one of the NBA’s most lucrative markets.
But the apologies have sparked derision in the United States, where critics said the league was sacrificing morals for money.
Writing on Twitter, “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone offered spoof contrition over any offence they had caused in China with their satirical show.
“Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts,” they wrote.