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Daimler chief removed after 'racist rant' in China

A Mercedes-Benz star is displayed prior to the annual press conference of German auto giant Daimler Image copyright Getty Images

German carmaker Daimler has apologised and removed a senior executive from his job after he allegedly made racist remarks in a row over parking in China.

Rainer Gaertner, Daimler's trucks and buses president in the country, also allegedly used pepper spray on bystanders who intervened.

Chinese media said the incident took place in a Beijing car park on Sunday.

Daimler said it was "a purely private issue, which has now been resolved in an amicable manner".

The argument, involving strong language, began when Mr Gaertner cut into a parking space in Beijing's well-to-do Shunyi suburb ahead of a local driver, reports said.

According to the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily, the Daimler executive then said: "I have been in China one year already; the first thing I learned here is: All you Chinese are bastards."

In a statement, Daimler added: "Such an incident reflects in no way the values of Daimler and we sincerely apologise for the concerns raised by this matter.

"The nature of the dispute and in particular the manner in which it was conducted, irrespective of any comments alleged to have been made, is adjudged to be not only of concern to the public but viewed by us as detrimental to the standing of our company, unbecoming of a manager of our brand and prejudicial to our good name," it said.

It added that Chinese authorities have closed their investigation into the incident.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Although police were quiet about the case, it was widely reported in China

It is the second time this month that a senior German official has been criticised for remarks about Chinese. The EU's Digital Economy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger was forced to apologise for comments made about Chinese officials in a speech.

EU's Oettinger apologises for China speech

Reacting to the latest remarks, English-language Chinese newspaper the Global Times said: "No matter how dirty your words are, your heart should not be dirty."

And the alleged remarks also provoked an angry response on social media.

One poster to China's Sina Weibo platform said: "Expats should behave themselves and never put on airs even if they are rich or superior." Others suggested they would stop buying Daimler cars as a result of the incident.

Daimler said Mr Gaertner had been removed from his position while an internal investigation was carried out in Germany.

Correction 23 November 2016: This report has been amended to clarify the action taken by Daimler.

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