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A manager for automaker Daimler has learned the hard way that an alleged bigoted outburst can cause a huge problem.
An announcement from Daimler Greater China said the company had removed one of its managers following a matter it called regrettable.
The statement, which was emailed to news agencies, did not name the manager or say what exactly he had done.
However, the news media and users of Internet in China were far more to the point. They accused the Daimler Trucks and Buses in China CEO and president Rainer Gartner on Sunday of insulting the people of China during an argument with a driver related to a parking spot outside Beijing.
The controversy surged during the past week after a user of the popular microblogging service in China known as Weibo accused Gartner of insulting the people of China following a standoff involving a parking spot in a district in Beijing’s northeast known as Shunyi were many foreigners as well as Chinese in the middle class live.
The suburb butts up to an area where poorer residents who at one time were farmers, now reside.
Gartner is alleged to have told the motorists from China in English that he has lived in China for one year and the first thing that he learned while living in China was a crude insult that he then used to describe all Chinese people.
The account said as well that Gartner used some pepper spray against people who started to gather including one individual who was sprayed in the eyes.
Gartner has yet to comment publicly about the argument. Neither Daimler nor the Beijing police released any details so nothing has been corroborated.
Nevertheless, the news media in China and many users on Internet seized upon the news to use Gartner as an example of arrogant Western bigotry while demanding he and his employer apologize.
The incident became another example of how powerful the internet is in China as it humbles companies as well as people accused of hurting the national pride.
One newspaper in China said that some foreign businesses use words and actions that are racially prejudiced about consumer in China and even about employees.
Gartner, who is German, had been working at the Daimler unit for over one year following a stint of six years in South Korea.
On Monday, Daimler initially said it was very sorry over the dispute and said comments its employees make do not represent opinions of Daimler.
That changed though when anger by the Chinese grew and the company acted and made the announcement of the departure of Gartner from his position with the company.