Christmas card gone wrong

The US branch of SolarWorld, which kicked off the U.S.-Sino photovoltaic trade dispute, has distanced itself from the card. Meanwhile the German branch has apologized for "any offense that might have been caused" by the card, while adding that the card was distributed to "a limited number of recipients."

Accompanying the picture of the grinning and shrugging Chinese/Santa caricature is a "wish list" for 2012, which includes things like, "best price, highest quality, local service, clear production and German jobs."

Chinese-American Ocean Yuan, the founder of Grape Solar, which is based in the state of Oregon, made the card public in an email yesterday. He attached to it a letter he had written to local political representatives saying that he is "outraged and disgusted" by the card.

Local Oregon media report that two Senators from the state, both of who support the SolarWorld USA trade complaint, issued a joint statement condemning the card, saying that it was inappropriate and offensive.

In its statement, responding to publicity generated by the card, SolarWorld Industries America’s Ben Santarris sought to highlight the company’s progressive racial policies. "Our pro-diversity and anti-harassment employment policies and programs are just parts of our ongoing active efforts to embrace and celebrate the diversity of our company and our world."

pv magazine approached Chinese employees of parent company Solarpraxis AG about their reaction to card. Both found the card offensive and perpetuating of negative stereotypes of the Chinese industry.