Just a few days ago, Germany's EU commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Günther Oettinger described Chinese people as “slit-eyed” while speaking to businessmen in Hamburg.
"All of them in suits, single-breasted, dark blue jackets. All of them had their hair combed from left to right, with black shoe polish on their hair,” he said.
He also went on to mock LGBTQ community as he said, "Perhaps compulsory gay marriage will be introduced.”
The German Federation of Lesbians and Gays (LSVD) called out Oettinger on his offensive remarks
“An EU commissioner must be able to convincingly represent the European values of non-discrimination and not put the case for racist and homophobic prejudices,” said LSVD spokeswoman Stefanie Schmidt.
Yet, Oettinger did not address the issue.
However, he did apologize for his comments about Chinese people.
“I have great respect for the dynamics of the Chinese economy — China is a partner and a tough competitor,” the politician said. “I can now see that the words I used have created bad feelings and may even have hurt people. This was not my intention and I would like to apologize for any remark that was not as respectful as it should have been.”
He also said that Wallonia, a region of Belgium, is run by “communists that blocks Europe.” To defend his statement, he stated that Wallonia is “not only historically an important European region, but actively contributes to the cultural and political diversity of Europe.”
Interestingly, Oettinger had previously refused to apologize.
“Everything has been said. There is nothing to apologize for. There is no scandal. It’s the press that has made this a scandal,” he had said.
One cannot help but wonder what suddenly caused him to change his mind and try to clarify his words.
Apparently, his aim was to “give a wake-up call to the German audience.”
“If the Germans focus their political work on reducing the retirement age, increasing pensions etc., no one should be surprised if we lose the global battle for competitiveness,” he said.
Unfortunately (fortunately?), Oettinger’s remarks come at a time when he is expected to take over the European Commission as vice president. His comments could land him in hot water with members of the European parliament, who will test his suitability before letting him assume his new role.