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Germany’s Daimler, parent of Mercedes-Benz, said in a statement that it has “relieved the manager of his position” after Rainer Gaertner, CEO and president at Mercedes-Benz / Daimler Trucks made racist comments about the Chinese people during a quarrel in a Beijing villa compound on Sunday.
Gaertner got into an argument with an unidentified Chinese man over a parking spot. The quarrel broke out when Gaertner drove his Mercedes into a parking spot while a driver was reversing, Financial Times reports.
The CEO lost his temper and made insulting comments about Chinese people, and also alleged to have pepper-sprayed an onlooker who tried to intervene.
Police were called to the scene and both drivers were brought back to the district’s police station for questioning, media reports said.
The incident was first posted on Weibo on Sunday and soon picked up by mainstream Chinese media. It drew much attention from Chinese netizens, and the Weibo account of Mercedes-Benz was instantly flooded by thousands of angry comments posted by Chinese users.
In a statement released on Monday, Daimler Greater China said it “sincerely apologised for the concerns raised by this matter”, and that the company had “relieved the manager of his position”.
“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,” the statement said.
Gaertner’s LinkedIn profile said that he started work in Beijing as the CEO and president at Mercedes-Benz/Daimler Trucks and Buses China in July 2015. Previously, he was based in Korea for six years, also as the CEO and president.
The story was first reported in Marketing-Interactive.