BEIJING, June 15 – People who insult the Chinese should pay the price to deter future offenders, Chinese official media said in a very concise comment, following remarks by an UBS economist on pigs in China.
Paul Donovan, chief economist of the UBS division of wealth management, said in a podcast Wednesday that consumer prices in China have risen after the outbreak of African swine fever that killed a large number of pigs and cut the stocks.
"Does it matter? It does not matter if you are a Chinese pig. It's important if you like eating pork in China, "Donovan said in comments interpreted by some as people, not cattle.
His remarks made a splash on Chinese social media and even pushed a Chinese company to suspend any transaction with the largest bank in Switzerland.
UBS apologized for any misunderstanding caused by Donovan's comments and put the economist on leave. Donovan also said that he was sorry.
"It remains unclear whether Donovan was fired, but those who insult the Chinese must pay the price," said the president. Daily People, the newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, said in a commentary released last night.
"Otherwise, relapses will be inevitable and potential offenders will be encouraged to do the same," warned the newspaper.
Many have tried to explain it by saying that the Chinese were not native English speakers and had misunderstood, said Hao Hong, head of research at Hong Kong's Bank of Communications International and among the first in the Chinese financial community to call Donovan for his comments. .
"But you do not have to be a native speaker to understand the pejorative link between the word" pig "and a culture," wrote Hong, in a post posted on his personal account on WeChat.
Donovan did not respond to a Reuters e-mail asking for a comment.
The stakes are high for foreign companies like UBS that want to expand their presence in China, as the world's second largest economy opens up its financial sector.
Last December, UBS became the first foreign bank in China to obtain official authorization to take control of its local securities joint venture.
UBS said it was strengthening its "internal processes" to avoid the repetition of such an incident and remains "fully committed to investing in China."
The Swiss bank is not the first to be interested in cultural issues in China.
Last year, the Italian luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana raised an uproar after one of its commercials showed a model of East Asian ancestry who was struggling to eat pizza with baguettes.
"Whenever Chinese nationals responded to insults from outsiders, some critics quickly criticized the Chinese for their" glass heart "," writes People's Daily.
"Even some compatriots believe that any Chinese revenge is tantamount to turning a mountain into a molehill. But that's a big problem, and there can be no ambiguity about it. "- Reuters