Upwardly-mobile Chinese got an unpleasant surprise Thursday when DaimlerChrysler announced that it will recall 95-percent of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans in China due to a fuel tank defect.

The recall is limited to the nearly 24,000 S-Class cars built from late 1998 through early 2005 and sold in China. Curiously, S-Class models sold elsewhere are unaffected. DaimlerChrysler plans to begin manufacturing Mercedes cars in China in 2007.

Reuters reports that DaimlerChrylser sales in Northeast Asia grew 15 percent in 2005, led by a strong performance by Mercedes in Korea and China.

[Source: Reuters]