Saturday

19th Aug 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"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.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

Europeans more optimistic about EU since Brexit vote

Perceptions of the EU have increased significantly in France, and Europeans generally feel more optimistic about the future of the bloc since last autumn - despite Brexit and a surge in populism.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides