Mercedes-Benz gave an unprompted apology to China’s communist government for quoting the Dalai Lama on their Instagram account to avoid the wrath of Chinese regulators.
Mercedes posted the now-deleted quote from the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet on Monday, that read: “Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open,” according to The Associated Press. Chinese officials did not reprimand Mercedes, but the company issued an apology Tuesday in light of Chinese regulators recent demand for apologies from Marriott, Zara, Audi and more than two dozen other companies for mentioning Hong Kong and Taiwan as independent countries or appearing sympathetic toward Tibet.
Mercedes was careful to omit mention of the Dalai Lama, whom the Chinese government has called a “violent separatist” and a “demon,” in their statement to Beijing, but did apologize for “wrong information” that “hurt the feelings of Chinese people.”
“What we are striving for is that, as we are a globally active company, we establish an understanding for cultural tolerance,” Simonette Illi, a spokeswoman for Daimler AG in Beijing, told the AP.
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Illi told the AP that the company posted the quote of its own initiative and was not prompted to do so by any outside influences. The Chinese government, according to Illi, did not reach out to Mercedes about the quote.
Mercedes likely sought to avoid a fate similar to that of Marriott, that the Chinese government punished by forcing them to shut down all of their China based websites and apps for three weeks. The had to do so because the wording of one of Marriott’s customer surveys and also because one of their U.S. based employees liked a pro-Tibetan independence tweet.
The Chinese government has long been at odds with the Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile since 1959. Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of fomenting violence, stirring up separatist sentiments, and seeking to separate Tibet from China. The Dalai Lama, by contrast, claims that he only wants Tibet to be self-governed and to protect the distinct Tibetan Buddhist heritage of the region.
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