Beijing: Don't mess with China's flag.
Olympic sponsor Adidas learned that lesson when it recently placed a sports bag on the market in Hong Kong, which mixed its own logo with that of China's national flag.
The issue was first raised by the Hong Kong newspaper Mingpao, which pointed out that Adidas had violated China's flag law. The law forbids using the flag in commercial images.
China's national flag consists of a large yellow star with four smaller stars arranged alongside in an arc, all on a red background. In the design of the sports bags, Adidas put its logo inside the large star.
Erica Kerner, the director of Adidas' Beijing Olympic programme, said the bag was never marketed in mainland China. She said it was on the market for about a week in Hong Kong and then pulled. She said she did not know how many, if any,
"Hong Kong obviously has lots of their own rules," Kerner said. "We knew the China flag rule but (the Adidas staff) missed it in Hong Kong. The intent was to celebrate China, not to cause any discomfort and of course not break any rules."
Hong Kong is Chinese territory, but has its own legal system, some autonomy and Western-style civil liberties.
A high-profile Beijing Olympic sponsor, Adidas has reportedly paid about $200 million for the rights. It has paid a similar amount for rights to the 2012 London Olympics.