BEIJING – China demanded an apology from CNN on Tuesday after network commentator Jack Cafferty called the country's leaders a "bunch of goons and thugs" and said its products were "junk."
It was the latest flare-up after Beijing accused Western media of bias in its reporting following violent protests in the Tibetan capital last month. Atlanta-based CNN has been singled out by some Chinese who say overseas news outlets are smearing Beijing.
"We are shocked and strongly condemn the vicious remarks by Cafferty," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. "We solemnly request CNN and Cafferty himself take back the malicious remarks and apologize to the Chinese people."
Cafferty made the remarks during an appearance on CNN's daily political news program, "The Situation Room," that aired April 9, according to a transcript posted on CNN's Web site.
He was speaking about the U.S. trade deficit with China when he said, according to the transcript, "We continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food and export, you know, jobs to places where you can pay workers a dollar a month to turn out the stuff that we're buying from Wal-Mart."
"So I think our relationship with China has certainly changed," he continued. "I think they're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years."
Network spokeswoman Edie Emery at CNN headquarters in Atlanta pointed out that Cafferty made a clarification Monday on "The Situation Room."
"I was referring to the Chinese government, and not to Chinese people or to Chinese-Americans," Cafferty said, referring to the 'goons and thugs' comment, on Monday's program.
Some Chinese at home and abroad have denounced Western media for what they claim are slanted reports about the unrest in Tibet that unjustly criticized Beijing in its crackdown.
The recent protests in Tibet against five decades of Chinese rule have been the largest and most sustained in almost two decades. They also have fueled protests that have disrupted the global torch relay for this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.