It looks like the upcoming Iron Man movie seems to have gotten a little more than an off footing and sidetracking with its casting.
I am fully aware like others who follow the comic book, that the Mandarin, Tony Stark/Iron Man's arch nemesis, is a Eurasian character (According to the sources: The Mandarin's late father was a wealthy Chinese merchant in pre-revolutionary China and has Mongol ancestry going back to Genghis Khan
, while his late mother was an English
But his cultural background and the setting of his story in the comics is firmly Chinese through and through.
The Mandarin, usually has his stories taking place there, his plans, schemes and machinations often entail themes and subjects dealing with Chinese mythology, he sometimes works in collaboration with the Chinese Government to implement his plans for world domination and so on. As much of a stereotypical throwback to Fu-Manchu as he is, that is his ethnic background.
And nothing could be further from that cultural background and backdrop than Kingsley (a British Indian actor). As good as Kingsley is, this is still tantamount to a whitewashed role and it would have deemed more appropriate for a Chinese actor, whether a Chinese or a Western Chinese actor to get the role.
I don't see how even an actor like Tzi Ma (who has been crucially involved in the Racebending protests, and also often been typecasted rather unfortunately in many villanous roles in Hollywood movies) could not have gotten it as someone like him would have been more appropriate for the role.
NB: It's too bad John Lone, of the Year of the Dragon, The Last Emperor and Rush Hour 2 fame, was already cast in a role very similar to that of the Mandarin (in the early 90s fiasco of a superhero movie, The Shadow), otherwise he is what I would have imagined Mandarin to be in my imagination of a live-film adaptation of the character.