The Chinese basketball star, Yao Ming, is suing Coca-Cola for improperly using his image for promotional purposes and has once again demanded the recall of bottles bearing his picture.

Underlining that it is the principle of the matter which Zao Ming is primarily concerned with, the player is suing Coca-Cola for just CNY1.00 (US$0.12), the price of one can of Coke in China. But he has also demanded a public apology on nationwide media from the US soft drinks giant.

"The only purpose of this lawsuit is to protect Yao Ming's legal rights, his rights of image and name in particular," Yao's website proclaimed. "The amount of compensation is not a focus."

The row stems from the fact that Yao has a personal endorsement contract with Pepsi but the Chinese basketball team, for whom he plays, has a corporate contract with Coca-Cola. This has been Coca-Cola's defence from the outset.

"We insist that we have the legal right to use the images of any members of the Chinese men's basketball team on our products," Coca-Cola spokeswoman, May Zhai, reiterated. "According to our experience in other countries, we only need to sign the agreement with the team and there is no need for us to talk to every individual athlete to ask for their permission."