American fast-food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is facing Chinese wrath for its latest television advertisement showing an old Taoist surrounded by his followers excitedly munching chicken burgers and claiming it as a "masterpiece".
The backdrop and the old Taoist's clothing simulates a scene from the movie Seven Swords, a fiction based on historical events and is highly regarded among the Chinese community.
Yin Cheng'an, a leading Taoist in the Beijing Baiyun Taoist Temple, said that the old Taoist, Fu Qingzhu, in the fiction Seven Swords is a real historical figure, and that it is ridiculous to have Fu recommend chicken burgers because he and most Taoists are vegetarian and the faith dictates killing animals is wrong.
Fu's portrayal in the commercial is deemed unacceptable not only by the Taoist community but also many Chinese, the China Business Post newspaper reported.
The controversy has raised concerns that Chinese culture will be further undermined if phenomena like this are not curbed.
"In cultural exchanges between China and the western countries, the latter always appears in a dominant position, and our culture and traditions are not given full respect," says Han Yunbo, a professor of the Southwest University Literature Department.
"This event tells us to better protect our traditions and to keep them pure against tacky reconstructions," he said.