China racism case: Restaurant owner removes 'racist' sign

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This photo taken on February 26 shows a Chinese cook working in a restaurant behind a sign that says "This shop does not receive the Japanese, The Philippines, The Vietnamese and Dog" at the historic tourist district of Houhai in Beijing.

A defiant Beijing restaurant manager refused to apologize Thursday despite removing a "racist" sign barring citizens of states in maritime disputes with China, along with dogs, following an international outcry, AFP reported.

The notice in the window of the Beijing Snacks restaurant read: "This shop does not receive the Japanese, the Philippines, the Vietnamese and dog(s)" in both Chinese and English.

But despite taking down the sign after accusations of racism, the manager said he had no regrets and would not apologize for any offence caused, AFP said.

The manager, surnamed Wang, said it was taken down "because it was a lot of bother".

"I don't have any regrets," he told the newswire. "I was just getting too many phone calls about it."

He seemed surprised at the attention it had generated but said he would not apologize for any offence caused, suggesting it may have been misinterpreted.

"Maybe people misunderstood our meaning... it only said we would not serve customers from those countries," he said.

The restaurant sign provoked an outcry in Vietnam and the Philippines, generating thousands of posts on Vietnamese social networking sites and newspaper comment threads.

A Vietnamese diplomat in China has said the country will respond "appropriately" to the case, BBC Vietnamese reported Wednesday.

The unnamed diplomat did not say what the response would be, but stressed that Vietnam's viewpoint is that mutual respect and friendship has to be maintained.

Filipinos greeted the photo with a mixture of fury and amusement, AFP said. "Blatant racism at Beijing Restaurant," journalist Veronica Pedrosa wrote in one widely-shared tweet.

Meanwhile, speaking to the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Zhai Lei Ming, Chinese consul general in Ho Chi Minh City, said the owner's actions were wrong and did not represent a majority of the Chinese people or the Chinese government's viewpoint.

When asked why the local government had not done anything despite the sign being posted for a long time, he said it had not been aware of it.

Responding to another question about the Chinese government's future actions after the case was reported in the media, he said he was just a consul general, not the government or any agency that is supposed to handle it.

The photos were taken by Rose Tang, a former CNN journalist who was born in China but is now based in New York, on February 22 during her trip to Beijing, and posted on her Facebook, Tuoi Tre reported.

As of February 27, one photo which is the close-up of the shop named Beijing snacks in the capital city's Houhai District had been shared by more than 3,700 people. The photos have drawn the attention of the international media, which has reported on the restaurant and its racist sign.

According to Tuoi Tre, it is not known when the shop's owner, whose surname is Wang, put up the sign, but it was first mentioned on Chinese social sites like Sina and Weibo in September.

The owner was quoted as saying that he posted the notice to speak his mind, but also preferred that the Japanese, the Filipino and the Vietnamese did not read it.

However, in an interview with BBC Chinese, the shop owner said he is proud of what he has done and that he does not care what people say, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, speaking to Tuoi Tre, Tang said that she had posted the photos online because she felt obliged to expose what she called "racism with a twist of nationalism." She hoped that pressure from the public and the media will teach Wang and people like him a lesson.

Many netizens have expressed their outrage on Tang's personal page, calling the sign and the shop owner's attitude "shocking" and "ugly."

In one of the most liked comments, Paul Mooney, a freelance reporter in Beijing, said: "This is the [Chinese] government and Party's fault. They tell lies about other countries and distort history and so Chinese who don't know any better respond with ignorance. Very depressing."

China is currently involved in sea territorial disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam over large areas of the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea. China and Japan have a separate dispute over islands in the East China Sea.

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