BEIJING Luxury retailer Christian Dior has pulled advertisements featuring Sharon Stone from stores across China after the actress suggested the country's earthquake was "bad karma" for Beijing's policies in Tibet.
At least 68,000 people died in the May 12 quake in southwest China, which came months after unrest in Tibet that sparked an international outcry over Beijing's handling of the predominantly Buddhist region, which Communist troops entered in 1950.
"Due to some customer reaction we have decided to pull her image from all of the department stores and from all of China," Christian Dior China said in a statement.
Stone has a modeling contract with the cosmetics arm of the luxury retailer for which newly rich China is a fast-growing market.
"We just want our customers and fans to realize that her personal comments are not related to the company and of course we don't support any type of commentary that will hurt the feelings of our customers," Dior said.
The Beijing Times reported that Chinese cinemas would not show Stone's films, though China already strictly limits the number of foreign movies it distributes in theatres.
Her movies include "Basic Instinct" in 1992 and "Casino" and "The Quick and the Dead", both in 1995.
Stone apologized for her comments in remarks carried in Chinese media on Thursday.
"In the course of the interview I made inappropriate remarks and for any harm created towards the Chinese people I am extremely sad and apologize," the Beijing News quoted Stone as saying in a Chinese translation of her statement.
China's Foreign Ministry also weighed in on the controversy.
"We hope that as an American actress she can contribute to our two people's trust, understanding and friendship," spokesman Qin Gang told a news conference.
In Stone's initial remarks made on the red carpet at the Cannes film festival, she called the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism -- whom China reviles as a traitor -- a "good friend".
After mentioning the Tibet unrest she said in the comment replayed on video-sharing Web site YouTube: "And then all this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and I thought, is that karma -- when you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?"
Chinese bloggers, who were particularly active in criticizing the West over its attitude towards Tibet, have exploded in anger over Stone's comments.
"Don't give any attention to this old lady -- don't watch her movies, don't buy the products she represents," read one.
Another called her a "dirty swine".
In response to a China Daily story on Stone, one reader wrote, "All Chinese should boycott her to let her know our power ... She should go to hell."
(Reporting by Lindsay Beck; Editing by Nick Macfie)