CNN tells China it didn't mean to cause offence

BEIJING Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:01am EDT

The CNN logo in an undated photo. CNN said it did not mean to cause offence when one of its commentators said the Chinese were ''goons'' and that their products were ''junk''. REUTERS/CNN/Handout

The CNN logo in an undated photo. CNN said it did not mean to cause offence when one of its commentators said the Chinese were ''goons'' and that their products were ''junk''.

Credit: Reuters/CNN/Handout

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BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. television news network CNN said it did not mean to cause offence when one of its commentators said the Chinese were "goons" and that their products were "junk".

Jack Cafferty made the comments earlier this month on CNN's political program, The Situation Room, prompting an angry demand from China for an apology.

"It was not Mr. Cafferty's nor CNN's intent to cause offence to the Chinese people, and (CNN) would apologize to anyone who has interpreted the comments in this way," CNN said in a statement.

CNN said Cafferty was offering his "strongly held" opinion of the Chinese government, not China's people, adding that he clarified the point on Monday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu condemned the "evil attack" by CNN on the Chinese people.

"Cafferty used the microphone in his hand to slander China and the Chinese people, and seriously violated reporting ethics," she said.

Cafferty had said the United States imported Chinese-made "junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food", adding: "They're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years."

China came under international scrutiny following a series of food and product health scares last year. It says the vast majority of its products are safe and has accused Western media of over-hyping the problem.

China has lashed out at Western media organizations, including CNN in recent weeks following unrest in Tibet, accusing them of running distorted reports, siding with pro-Tibet independence groups and of demonizing China.

(Reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by Valerie Lee)