MICHAELA MERTZ WRITES – Tensions rose earlier this month between luxury car maker Mercedes Benz and the Chinese government, over a social media post quoting the Dalai Lama.
The quote appeared on an Instagram post, but after complaints from China and Chinese Instagram users, the carmaker pulled the post and quickly apologized. As reported by the Associated Press, Mercedes Benz promised to “take concrete action to deepen our understanding, including colleagues abroad, of Chinese culture and values.”
Ironically, Instagram is blocked by the Chinese Communist Party’s so-called Great Firewall. But the government appears worried what Chinese abroad, with freer access to the Internet, might think. Mercedes Benz’s apology, which borders on groveling, likely reflects the importance the company places on the Chinese car market. As headlined by the New York Times, “Mercedes-Benz Quotes the Dalai Lama. China Notices. Apology Follows.”
The Dalai Lama is broadly considered Tibetan Buddhism’s spiritual leader, is a proponent of Tibetan independence, and outside of China is among the most respected world leaders. Within China he is viewed as an agitator.