Monday

16th Jul 2018

Oettinger apologises over China insults

  • Oettinger: "I had time to reflect on my speech, and I can now see that the words I used have created bad feelings and may even have hurt people" (Photo: European Parliament)

EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger apologised on Thursday (3 November) about controversial remarks he made last week about Chinese people and Wallonia.

"I had time to reflect on my speech, and I can now see that the words I used have created bad feelings and may even have hurt people," the German commissioner said in a statement published by the commission.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

"This was not my intention and I would like to apologise for any remark that was not as respectful as it should have been."

Oettinger, who is currently in charge of digital economy but is set to become a commission vice-president in charge of the EU budget, was filmed in Hamburg saying to business people that Chinese were "slant eyes" and "comb their hair with shoe polish".



After the video was released on internet, he said the film had been cut and his words taken out of context. The commission's spokesman on Monday said that he would "refrain from any value judgement".

But on Wednesday the Chinese foreign affairs minister said that the remarks demonstrated "a baffling sense of superiority entrenched in some Western politicians" and asked for "mutual respect".

Oettinger in the statement explained that he had been "frank and open" in order to "give a wake-up call to the German audience". He said he took "some examples" to explain that Germany and Europe "need to set the right priorities" to stay competitive in the world.

"I have great respect for the dynamics of the Chinese economy," he said in the statement.

"China is a partner and a tough competitor. Therefore we need a level playing field where Chinese companies can buy European ones and European companies can buy Chinese ones. It is important to have that access on both sides – and I see room for improvement here."

Oettinger was also under criticism for having said that Wallonia, the French-speaking Belgian region that delayed the signing of a EU-Canada trade deal, was "a micro-region run by communists that blocks all Europe”.

In his apology, he said: "I regret that some of my remarks were misquoted regarding Wallonia which is not only historically an important European region, but actively contributes to the cultural and political diversity of Europe."

Investigation

Oettinger left no trace of VW Dieselgate meeting

EU commissioner for the digital economy and society, Guenther Oettinger, met with German carmakers in January to discuss "diesel emissions", even though the topic is not in his portfolio.

Investigation

German EU commissioner rejects wrongdoing

Oettinger said he used pro-Russia lobbyist's jet because it was the only way to make dinner in Budapest, but who paid for the trip?

Investigation

MEPs criticise Oettinger's 'judgement'

The German commissioner says it was normal to travel by a private jet owned by a German businessman. MEPs, with the exception of Oettinger's own EPP group, are gearing up to grill him.

Investigation

Commission accused of cherry picking job applicants

A pilot project scheme is giving preferential treatment for interns to land highly sought-after jobs at the European Commission - bypassing the lengthy open competition for everyone else seeking the same position.

News in Brief

  1. VW owners to get diesel software update free until 2020
  2. Airbnb breaches EU consumer rules, Commission says
  3. EU sees no China free-trade talks
  4. Italy accepts migrant boat after help promises
  5. EU opens case on Siemens' Alstom buyout
  6. Trump: May found my Brexit advice 'too brutal'
  7. Italy will reject EU-Canada trade deal, says deputy PM
  8. Commission: Juncker suffered from sciatica attack at Nato

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. EU is 'foe', as Trump seeks to make friends with Putin
  2. Let's not be 'naive' with Chinese partner, says senior MEP
  3. Trump, trade, and Brexit in EU headlines This WEEK
  4. EU and China edge closer in Trump's 'America First' world
  5. How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism
  6. Stage set for Trump-Putin finale
  7. Trump scuppers trade deal with UK under May's Brexit
  8. Trump wades into Brexit after Nato fiasco

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us