A popular video we-media apologized on Thursday for "erroneously referring to a hero" and "creating a bad social influence" after it reportedly humiliated a civil war hero and ignited a backlash.
"Wangnima," a we-media and video platform host on baozoumanhua.com released a statement on Sina Weibo on Thursday saying that "We deeply apologize for the inadequate supervision and for not deleting photos released by netizens in 2015, which referred to the name of a martyr. We have deeply reflected on erroneously mentioning the name of a martyr in one of our videos in 2014… and apologize for the bad social influence the incident created."
Some netizens said baozoumanhua.com released on May 8 a 58-second video footage which humiliated heroes Dong Cunrui and Ye Ting.
Dong sacrificed his life carrying explosives into an enemy bunker during the Battle of the War of Liberation (1946-49). Ye Ting was a well-known military leader of the Communist Party of China.
"Wangnima" has more than 16.6 million followers on Sina Weibo.
Baozoumanhua.com's Sina Weibo account was shut down on Thursday evening. Sina said in a release on Thursday that 16 accounts, including baozoumanhua, were shut down for humiliating, insulting or damaging the heroes' reputations.
The video showed "Wangnima" retelling the story of Dong to make ads for a hamburger and recomposed Ye's poem for painless induced abortion, a screen capture of the video showed.
The video was firstly streamed online in 2014 and reposted on news and information content platform Jinri Toutiao, or Toutiao, and other online streaming platforms on May 8, reported.
The video was deleted as of press time.
The incident has triggered a backlash on social media with many netizens criticizing "Wangnima" for insulting the heroes and violating laws.
China's law protecting the reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs took effect on May 1, and states that those who violate the heroes and martyrs' names, portraits, reputations, and honor will be punished.
The law also outlaws acts that glorify invasions, with offenders facing administrative or criminal punishment based on the severity of their actions.
In response to netizens' questions, "Wangnima" said on Sina Weibo that "the contents were made to ridicule improperly embedded advertising and did not intend to humiliate martyrs."
The explanation failed to quell the outrage. Toutiao announced on Wednesday evening that it had removed the controversial videos and would block baozoumanhua from the platform.
The Xinhua News Agency's Sina Weibo account posted short comments on the incident on Thursday, saying that "it has been half of month since the law protecting the reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs took effect. The law is meant to punish those who humiliate heroes."
"Wangnima" said in its Thursday statement that they have learned their lesson and would strengthen supervision over future videos.
"We will obey the law which protects the reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs, and will prevent ridiculing heroes and martyrs," the statement said.