Daimler executive accused of insulting China after parking row

One injured as man used pepper spray and called Chinese ‘bastards’, newspaper reports

A senior employee from German carmaker Daimler is in trouble after a row over a parking space in Beijing escalated into a racist rant against China, with internet users calling for the executive to be punished for insulting his host nation.

Rainer Gartner, who is head of Daimler's trucks and buses unit, got into a fight on Sunday after he nipped his black Mercedes into a parking spot as a Chinese driver was backing in to the same space at the River Garden villa compound in the upscale northeastern suburb of Shunyi.

"I am in China one year already. The first thing I learned here is that all you Chinese are bastards," the executive yelled, according to the Global Times newspaper. People approached Mr Gaertner to take issue with him after hearing his remarks, whereupon he pulled out pepper spray and attacked them, the newspaper reported.

One person was injured. China is one of Daimler's biggest global markets, especially for its Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks. "We deeply regret this personal argument. The content of this argument does not represent at all the views of the company," Daimler said in a statement.



“At Daimler, we always value equality and respect in our corporate culture [and] the same also applies in China. And we are dedicated to be a responsible Chinese corporate citizen and progress together with the Chinese society,” Daimler said. The company added that it was investigating the incident and would take necessary measures accordingly.

Mr Gaertner has been the chief executive of Daimler's Chinese business unit for more than a year, having previously been based in Seoul as chief executive of Daimler Trucks Korea, as well as running Mercedes-Benz Guard, the armour-plated cars division of Daimler.

The Global Times quoted a friend of the person injured in the incident saying online: "This type of foreigner is earning money in China while insulting the Chinese people, and they hate China from the bottom of their hearts."

The paper also cited a 30-year-old Beijing resident surnamed Long, who bought a Mercedes-Benz GLK300 SUV in May 2014, saying an employee’s personal behaviour should not affect a company’s operations.

"It's an individual case which should not affect the brand, but this guy should be punished for insulting the Chinese people," he told the Global Times.

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan, an Irish Times contributor, spent 15 years reporting from Beijing