Chinese TV anchor Bi Fujian sorry for criticising Mao

Bi Fujian (Nov 2013) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Bi Fujian said he felt deep remorse and sorrow for his remarks

A leading presenter on Chinese state TV has apologised after video emerged of him criticising Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China.

Bi Fujian said he felt deep remorse and sorrow for his remarks, which had had "a detrimental impact in society".

He was filmed singing a parody song in which he said Chinese people had suffered under Mao's leadership.

Mao, who led China through the Cultural Revolution and devastating famine, is the subject of much historical debate.

State broadcaster CCTV said Mr Bi's comments had had a "serious social impact", but many in China have defended him.

"I sincerely offer my deep apology to the public. As a public figure, I will learn from this, and exercise strict self-discipline," Mr Bi said in a statement.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Chairman Mao, whose portrait hangs in Tiananmen Square, is subject to much historical debate

Mr Bi hosts CCTV's annual New Year variety show, the most-watched television programme in the world.

In the video, filmed at a private banquet, he is seen singing a song from a Mao-era opera, Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy.

But he changes the lyrics to say "we've suffered enough" and calls Chairman Mao "that old son of a bitch", prompting fellow guests to laugh.

Mr Bi has been taken off air for four days, state media report.

Chairman Mao ruled China between 1945 and 1976, generating mass social upheaval to recreate China.

While China's leaders officially acknowledge there were faults in Mao and the personality cult which surrounded him - generally he is seen as 70% good and 30% bad - he remains hugely respected, and insulting him and other leaders is a taboo.

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