A screenshot shows the restaurant Im Schiffchen in Düsseldorf, German Photo: China Central Television Sina Weibo account.(Photo: Global Times)
The Mayor of Düsseldorf, Germany, has issued a statement titled "Denouncing racism against Chinese residents" on the city's official website, vowing to resolutely stand with the local Chinese community after a high-end restaurant chef and owner said it doesn't welcome Chinese - a comment that provoked anger among overseas Chinese in Germany.
After the incident, Mayor Thomas Geisel said, "Like many residents in Dusseldorf, I was outraged by the restaurant owner's Facebook post. Such behavior does not fit the image of Dusseldorf, an international and open city that prides itself on having a large and vibrant Chinese and German-Chinese community."
Geisel expressed his firm opposition against all forms of racism, saying, "We will not tolerate racial slurs or discrimination against Asian residents because of COVID-19. The novel coronavirus is not a Chinese phenomenon, but a common challenge for the whole world. We can only face it together."
China's Consul General in Dusseldorf Feng Haiyang said, "Chinese and German-Chinese here all regard Dusseldorf as our second home. We are happy that the mayor has done justice."
The statement came after the chef and owner of the restaurant Im Schiffchen made the improper comments on Facebook when he announced his eatery's reopening after a lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "We start on Friday, but only with our bistro. No Chinese wanted!!!" wrote the chef, Jean-Claude Bourgueil. The post was not available on the chef's Facebook account on Wednesday.
The comment immediately triggered outrage in the public, especially among overseas Chinese in Germany. Numerous netizens expressed their condemnation over the racist remark. Many called for a boycott of the restaurant.
Challenged by the backfire, the chef issued a statement saying his comments were "thoughtless and completely wrong." He did not mean any harm to the Chinese, but to the Chinese "governor."
However, his excuse failed to quell public anger.
Overseas Chinese in Germany then complained to the Michelin Guide and local media over the issue.
The Michelin Guide on Friday strongly criticized the chef's discriminatory remarks on its WeChat account, saying it had decided to remove the restaurant from the list of recommended establishments.
The Global Times searched the restaurant on Michelin Guide's official global website but no results showed up.
According to the mayor's statement, the city has a long history of relations with China. In 2004, Dusseldorf launched the "China goes Dus" initiative to attract Chinese enterprises to invest, and as of January 2020, a total of 610 Chinese companies have set up headquarters or branches there, including Bank of China and mobile telecommunications and information technology companies such as Huawei.
About 5,000 Chinese and German-Chinese live in the city. In 2019, 43,000 Chinese tourists visited Dusseldorf.
In 2004, Dusseldorf became a sister city to Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. In addition, Dusseldorf has concluded agreements on friendly relations and economic and trade cooperation with China's Shenyang and Guangzhou respectively.