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Richard Gere, president of the Gere Foundation, International Campaign for Tibet, attends the hearing ‘The Crisis in Tibet: Finding a Path to Peace’ at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. 4/23/08

Italian car company Fiat has issued an apology to China over a television ad featuring actor Richard Gere and a reference to Tibet.

China has come under fire for the way it has handled violent unrest in Tibet, which seeks autonomy from the country.

Gere, a Buddhist, has been active in the free Tibet movement, and has ties to the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader viewed by China as a traitor.

The commercial for Fiat’s new Lancia Delta, shows Gere driving from Hollywood to the Himalayas, where he stops to make handprints in the snow with a young Buddhist monk.

Fiat issued a statement apologizing to the Chinese government and it’s people, but said the ad will not be pulled.

Last month Christian Dior pulled ads featuring Sharon Stone after the actress suggested that the earthquake that hit China may have been “karma.”

View the controversial Richard Gere Fiat commercial below.

photo: Wenn