German EU Commissioner Sparks Outrage After Calling Chinese People ‘Slit Eyes’

German EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger has drawn flak for referring to Chinese people as “slit eyes”.

Oettinger made the remark while speaking to businessmen in Hamburg last week, Reuters reported. He called the reference “sloppy” but justified why it had to be said:

“That was a somewhat sloppy remark that was in no way meant to be disrespectful to China. You have to see the broader context in which I made my remarks. In my speech, I wanted to warn Germany of too much self-confidence.”

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Photo by Claas Augner / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Oettinger, a senior member of chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, raised several issues in his speech such as maternity leave and allowances.

He also mentioned “compulsory gay marriage” as a looming possibility.

Photo by Jacques Grießmayer (CC BY 3.0)

Apparently, Oettinger has been making controversial slurs since 1988, according to Politico. He even received an award “for particularly notable mistakes in dealing with the German language.”

With his recent comments, the German Federation of Lesbians and Gays (LSVD) and politicians from Greens and Social Democrats responded in criticism.

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LSVD spokesperson Stefanie Schmidt said:

“An EU commissioner must be able to convincingly represent the European values of non-discrimination and not put the case for racist and homophobic prejudices.”

Katarina Barley, SPD Secretary General, told Der Spiegel:

“Someone who openly taps into such racist and homophobic feelings of prejudice disqualifies himself for top positions in politics. An EU budget commissioner with such a philosophy could damage the EU as a whole.”

Meanwhile, Green politician Volker Beck called the commissioner a “lunatic goblin” afraid of gays.

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Oettinger became the new EU budget commissioner last week, replacing Kristalina Georgieva, Deutsche Welle noted.

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