official People's Daily reported that Rainer Gaertner, who heads
Daimler's local trucks and buses unit, had made insulting
comments about Chinese people and used pepper spray during the
altercation in Beijing. It did not say from where the
information was sourced.
"We deeply regret this personal argument. The content of this
argument does not represent at all the views of the company,"
Daimler Greater China said in a statement. The incident was
being investigated by authorities and Daimler was fully
co-operating with them, it said.
The Daimler statement did not provide any details of the
incident. It also did not identify the executive or comment on
the use of pepper spray.
Gaertner could not be immediately reached for comment by phone
People's Daily said the German executive's row was with a
Chinese driver at a residential community in Beijing's
northeastern Shunyi District. Passersby were drawn to the
quarrel and tried to defend the Chinese driver, it said.
The media reports prompted a spike in online chatter, with the
outburst in the top 10 discussed topics on popular microblog
Sina Weibo on Monday morning. Many users posted comments saying
they would avoid buying Daimler cars.
Critical reports in official Chinese media have in the past hit
the reputations of foreign brands and dragged down sales.
In June, the official Global Times criticized cosmetics firm
Lancome, part of France's L'Oreal SA <OREP.PA>, for working with
Hong Kong pro-democracy singer Denise Ho, sparking calls online
in China to shun the firm's business. Lancome canceled a planned
concert with the singer.
(Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu; Writing by Adam Jourdan;
Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
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