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Mercedes-Benz Apologized To Its Chinese Customers For Quoting The Dalai Lama

China's government says that the Nobel Prize winner is an agitator for an independent Tibet.

Posted on February 6, 2018, at 4:56 p.m. ET

German carmaker Mercedes-Benz on Tuesday became the latest company to apologize to China, this time over an Instagram post that quoted the Dalai Lama.

Gabriel Bouys / AFP / Getty Images

The post, which has since been deleted, featured a quote attributed to the Tibetan spiritual leader with a picture of one of the company's cars and the hashtag "#MotivationMonday."

"Start your week with a fresh perspective on life from the Dalai Lama," read the caption under the post.
Instagram: @https://www.instagram.com/mercedesbenz/?hl=en / Via news.sina.com.cn

"Start your week with a fresh perspective on life from the Dalai Lama," read the caption under the post.

That didn't sit well with the company's Chinese consumers. At all. In much of the world, the Nobel laureate is considered to be a highly quotable, friendly monk. But in China, he's seen as an agitator for a free and independent Tibet.

The Chinese government says that China has had complete sovereignty over Tibet since the Qing dynasty (1644–1912). But Tibetans and independent historians say that the mutually respected relationship between the Tibetan government and the Qing ended when the Republic of China was born and the Qing dynasty fell. The current Dalai Lama has been living in exile since 1959.
Manjunath Kiran / AFP / Getty Images

The Chinese government says that China has had complete sovereignty over Tibet since the Qing dynasty (1644–1912). But Tibetans and independent historians say that the mutually respected relationship between the Tibetan government and the Qing ended when the Republic of China was born and the Qing dynasty fell. The current Dalai Lama has been living in exile since 1959.

In any case, Mercedes on Tuesday deleted the Instagram post and issued an apology on its Weibo account.

“We will promptly take steps to deepen our understanding of Chinese culture and values, our international staff included, to help standardize our actions to ensure this sort of issue doesn’t happen again,” the post reads. "We are well aware of how this has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, including our Chinese colleagues, and we offer our most sincere apologies."
news.sina.com.cn

“We will promptly take steps to deepen our understanding of Chinese culture and values, our international staff included, to help standardize our actions to ensure this sort of issue doesn’t happen again,” the post reads. "We are well aware of how this has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, including our Chinese colleagues, and we offer our most sincere apologies."

But that hasn't stopped the controversy. As of Tuesday afternoon, Mercedes' latest Instagram post has been flooded with comments, many of them written in Chinese, demanding that Mercedes apologize further — preferably on Instagram.

A slew of international companies have found themselves in hot water in China lately, including Marriott, which found its website blocked for a week after listing Tibet and Taiwan as separate countries in a drop-down menu.

Delta Airlines and Zara were both also forced to apologize after doing the same.
- / AFP / Getty Images

Delta Airlines and Zara were both also forced to apologize after doing the same.

The trend is worrying outside observers, including Mexico's former ambassador to China, who warned on Twitter than things could "very soon get out of control."

That China can intimidate foreign brands into censoring themselves should be extremely scandalous. This can very so… https://t.co/INS04gNeNq

Daimler, Mercedes-Benz's parent company, did not immediately respond to a BuzzFeed News request for further comment.

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