The offending material was in the form of an Instagram post

An apology was made to China by the vehicle maker Mercedes-Benz for quoting the Dalai Lama in a promotional Instagram post. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader is deemed dangerous and reviled by Beijing.

Mercedes-Benz deleted the post and issued and apologized through its official Weibo post. The Mercedes-Benz reaction shows that foreign companies are becoming increasingly wary of any damage done to their reputation if they misstep on any sensitive political issue.

The reason for all this heartburn was a promotional hashtagged “MondayMotivation” Instagram post. The post featured a white car manufactured by the company and a quote from the Dalai Lama that read, “Look at the situations from all angles, and you will become more open.” It exhorted the reader to look at any situation from multiple angles. An individual will become more open if this is done.

Mercedes-Benz is not the only company to fall afoul of the Chinese authorities. Beijing has earlier strongly criticized Marriott, the luxury hotel chain, and the Zara fashion brand, along with a number of other companies for terming Hong Kong and Taiwan separate countries in its promotional materials and websites.

Foreign brands are desperate to woo the increasingly prosperous Chinese consumer. However, many Chinese buyers and regulators are found to be willing to challenge the selling brands over what the Chinese Governments regard as inappropriate.

Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, did not mention the Dalai Lama in its apology. Simonette Illi, the spokeswoman for the company in Beijing, said that the company has not heard anything about the issue from the Chinese authorities. In their statement, the company promised to take action to deepen the knowledge about Chinese culture and its values.

When reporters asked Illi whether Daimler will design international marketing brochures with Chinese sensitivities in mind she said, “What we are striving for is that, as we are a globally active company, we establish an understanding for cultural tolerance.”

The Chinese Government rejects all accusations concerning human rights. It does not brook any external interference in its affairs. Ironically, Beijing demands governments of other nations to bow to the Chinese diktat.

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