Ferrari sorry after car damages Nanjing city wall

The Ferrari was shown driving on top of an ancient Chinese monument

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Italian sports car maker Ferrari has apologised after one of its cars drove on an ancient Chinese monument, prior to a publicity event, causing damage.

Ferrari suggested the incident was the fault of a local dealership employee.

The car was filmed wheel-spinning on top of a 600-year-old Ming-dynasty era wall in the city of Nanjing.

Footage of the screeching vehicle has infuriated China's online community, hitting a nerve in a society where such cars are a symbol of privilege.

One web user called it a "rude insult" to Chinese tradition and culture.

The incident, in the run-up to a Ferrari show, left tyre marks on the wall.

But most public anger has been directed at city officials after reports emerged suggesting they had agreed to rent the use of the wall to the Ferrari dealership for about $12,000 (£8,000).

City officials have retorted that the car company did not have approval.

"No enterprise or individual is allowed to use the city ramparts in Nanjing for commercial purposes," Nanjing Cultural Relics Bureau Captain Wu Jing said.

Ferrari has denied the episode was a publicity stunt and has laid the blame with a member of staff at a local dealership.

"Unfortunately, an employee of the dealership - not a Ferrari employee - took it upon himself to drive the car in the way that you will see in the video, with the very regrettable result that tyre marks were left on the ancient monument.

"Ferrari SpA has unreservedly apologised to the Chinese authorities and local community for any damage and offence caused, and has promised to work with the necessary officials to repair any damage caused by the negligence of this individual."

The BBC's John Sudworth in Shanghai says that other than the tyre marks, physical damage to the monument does not appear to be substantial.

The night-time spin, shortly after the car had been hoisted on to the wall, reportedly led to the cancellation of the event itself, a celebration of 20 years since Ferrari entered the Chinese car market.

The word Ferrari has now been blocked on Chinese microblogs, perhaps as part of an effort to contain criticism of the actions of government officials, our correspondent says.

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