Reuters reported that Mercedes-Benz had posted an advertisement for its cars on Instagram with a quote from the Dalai Lama: “Look at situations from all angles and you will become more open”. The post quickly attracted the criticism of Chinese netizens, despite the fact that Instagram is not accessible in China except through VPN connections.
In reaction, Mercedes-Benz deleted the ad and posted an apology on its Weibo page. In it, the company apologized for its “extremely erroneous message” saying,
“Taking this incident as a guide, we will immediately take practical actions to deepen our understanding of Chinese culture and values - including for our overseas colleagues - and regulate our behavior to prevent such incidents from occurring again.”
“The behavior of the car maker is a shameful kowtowing to dictatorship,” International Campaign for Tibet Executive Director in Germany, Kai Müller, said. He added, “Mercedes-Benz not only adapts to the language rules of the Chinese Communist Party, but even pledges to support Beijing in its worldwide effort to export its censorship. This seems almost ironic in light of the Dalai Lama’s quotation that was used: “Look at situations from all angles and you will become more open.””
Müller said, “The Dalai Lama enjoys a high reputation throughout the world. When Mercedes-Benz participates in the denigration of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, it is also a denigration of the Dalai Lama’s values of nonviolence, compassion and respect for others. And it is a slap in the face of many customers of the company around the world who believe in values such as freedom, democracy and human rights.”