Home The Latest SolarWorld holiday card called racist

SolarWorld holiday card called racist

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

BY LEE VAN DER VOO

A racially charged holiday greeting is fanning the flames of a trade dispute in the solar industry, one that already has business leaders and others feeling touchy.

Sent to overseas associates, the card features a wish-list of top priorities for SolarWorld, with hopes like “job creation” and “safe warranties” dashed by a shrugging Chinese man in a Santa suit.

The image of the toothy Chinese man with a somewhat Grinch-like palor prompted Ocean Yuan, founder of Eugene-based Grape Solar, to express outrage.

In a Jan. 17 letter to Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Yuan urged the duo to cut ties with SolarWorld. He said the Oregon Democrats should be “embarrassed and outraged by this blatantly racist card and disgraceful caricature attack on the Chinese” because both supported SolarWorld’s trade petition to the Department of Commerce.

SolarWorld’s Ben Santarris, in a statement on the company’s website, said the card was distributed by SolarWorld AG, the German parent company of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., which is based in Hillsboro.

“SolarWorld Industries America Inc. wishes to express its sincere apology to anyone who received an inappropriate and insensitive holiday card,” he said, indicating business contacts in Europe predominantly received an entirely different card sent by the American subsidiary.

The apology hasn’t been made personally to Yuan, who said he received the card after it was forwarded by a supplier. “I was shocked to see that,” he said. “It’s crazy.”

He has plans to circulate the image around Asian-American communities in major cities and the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus Wednesday, barring response from Merkley or Wyden.

Grape Solar and SolarWorld are on opposite sides of a debate about Chinese subsidies in the solar market. SolarWorld is leading a coalition asking for tariffs on Chinese imports, arguing China’s subsidies to its solar manufacturers are allowing the companies to dump solar cells on the U.S. market for less than the price of making them. Grape Solar is a major distributor of solar panels and among those that argue Chinese components are essential to keeping solar costs low and encouraging adoption of solar technology.

UPDATE:
Wyden and Merkley have issued this joint statement:

“We absolutely condemn the card SolarWorld AG sent to its European clients.  There can be no debate that it is inappropriate and offensive and SolarWorld AG is right to apologize. The trade complaint filed by SolarWorld USA – which had no part in creating and distributing this card — should be judged on its merits.  To do otherwise would be unfair to the American workers losing their jobs because of unfair trade practices.”

Lee van der Voo is a contributing writer for Oregon Business.


 

Comments   

 
Deb
0 #1 Solar World Holiday CardDeb 2012-01-18 11:13:23
I'd love to see the card to make my own assessment!
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
jimi
0 #2 And Ocean Claims...jimi 2012-01-18 12:22:52
So the card, aside from using a non-white person, is inappropriate and incorrect because Chinese manufactured panels do actually provide “job creation” and “safe warranties”? Really, Ocean?!? S'funny, I think that taking sensitivity to a picture from a company that you don't purchase from and wasn't sent to you in the first place is using your 1st amendment rights to beat up another's 1st amendment rights. Brilliant.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Spring thaw

News
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Spring ThawBY JASON NORRIS | OB BLOGGER

The “polar vortex” of 2014 seems to have finally thawed and we believe this change in weather will bring more sunshine to the U.S. economy as well.


Read more...

The 2014 List: The Top 34 Medium Companies to Work, For in Oregon

March 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014

100best14logoWebOur 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.

 


Read more...

Banishing oil burners reaps benefits for schools

News
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
04.02.14 thumb co2schoolsBY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Three years ago, PPS set out to begin to convert the 1930s-era boilers from diesel/bunker fuel to cleaner-burning natural gas. Oregon’s largest school district has realized impressive carbon dioxide emissions reductions, setting an example for public and private institutions.


Read more...

What I'm reading: Brad Smith & Travis Boersma

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Brad Smith, founder of Hot Pepper Studios, and Travis Boersma, president of Dutch Bros. Coffee, share their recent reads.


Read more...

Workplace benefits

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Health care and vacations rule. That’s the consensus from our reader poll on workplace benefits that help retain and recruit employees.


Read more...

Green eyeshades in the ivory tower

News
Friday, April 04, 2014
EducationCosts BlogBY ERIC FRUITS

The rapidly rising cost of higher education has left even the smartest researchers and the wonkiest of wonks wondering what’s happening and where’s all that money going. More and more, prospective students—and their families—are asking: Is college worth the cost?


Read more...

The 2014 List: The Top 33 Large Companies to Work, For in Oregon

March 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014

100best14logoWebOur 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.

 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS