Germany’s EU commissioner Gunter Oettinger finally apologised on Thursday for a speech in which he called Chinese officials “slitty-eyed” and joked about gay marriage.
The speech to German business leaders sparked outrage when it was posted online last week; the centre-right politician, a member of Angela Merkel’s CDU party, also described a Chinese delegation as having “their hair brushed from left to right with black shoe polish”.
Oettinger had insisted on Wednesday that he had nothing to apologise for.
That stance was criticised by a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson who said the comments by Oettinger showed “a baffling sense of superiority entrenched in some western politicians”.
“I can now see that the words I used have created bad feelings and may even have hurt people. This was not my intention and I would like to apologise for any remark that was not as respectful as it should have been,” he said in a statement.
The 63-year-old also said he had been misquoted by Belgian newspaper Le Soir, which reported that he had described Wallonia as a “micro region run by Communists”.