The Chinese state news agency Xinhua blazed into new territory Monday with the lighting up of a giant electric bill board in the most prestigious spot of New York's famed Times Square.
Few Americans are familiar with the government-run Chinese company and China is routinely criticized in the United States and elsewhere in the West for heavy censorship.
But millions of people will now see Xinhua's red and white logo flash from near the top of the south-facing facade of 2 Times Square.
The giant sign, dubbed a "spectacular" in the advertising business, fits right into corporate New York with a Prudential insurance ad on top and signs for Samsung, Coca-Cola and Hyundai below. It replaces an ad for HSBC bank.
The display rotates between images that include various Xinhua logos and what appear to be frame grabs from the agency's website.
A small gathering from a group called Students for a Free Tibet protested under the sign, carrying placards that showed Xinhua defaced with a red slash and the words: "China?s Censorship Agency.?
In a statement, Xinhua said it was the first Chinese company to take over the advertising space at Times Square, a teeming neighborhood famed for skyscrapers, garish electronic advertising boards and the adjacent theater district.
According to the New York Times, the HSBC sign was up for a decade before the company declined to renew its contract. It was not immediately clear how long Xinhua will maintain its sign, or how much it is paying.