Feb. 11, 2018 -- Daimler's Chairman Dieter Zetsche and Daimler Greater China's Chairman Hubertus Troika sent a joint letter of apology to the Chinese ambassador in Germany on Wednesday, sincerely apologizing to China for quoting the Dalai Lama in a social media post.
On Monday, Mercedes-Benz posted an advertisement on its Instagram account, with the quote: "Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open." Below the picture was the line: "Start your week with a fresh perspective on life from the Dalai Lama." The post quickly led to an uproar in China, as the Dalai Lama is considered an anti-China separatist.
The next day, Mercedes-Benz issued an apology on Sino Weibo, China's Twitter-like service, saying the post contained an "extremely wrong message," and vowed that it would never happen again. That night, People's Daily Online published a commentary that called Mercedes-Benz's an" enemy of the Chinese people," saying the apology lacked sincerity.
As the editorial argued, the ill-intentioned post was not only offensive, but it challenged the Chinese people. "Needless to say, it was disgusting," it said. "It is worth asking why, even before the dust from Marriott International has settled, international companies dare play with fire.”
As we all know, this is not the first time an international company has landed in hot water for anti-China actions. Earlier this year, Marriott International mistakenly labeled Tibet and other parts of Chinese territory as separate countries, liked a pro-Tibet independence group on social media, and provided information on its website that informed travelers that Tibet was a separate country with "bad relations" with Beijing.
"Whoever wrote the Instagram message knew exactly what they were doing," a reader commented on People's Daily Online. On both Chinese and English-language websites, Chinese people boiled over with anger and called for more actions to prevent China from becoming a punching-bag of the West.
While some in the West have criticized the response as an overreaction and an attack on free speech, we should put ourselves in the shoes of the Chinese people. In recent history, China suffered the humiliation of foreign invasion and aggression. We should understand that the Chinese people cherish state sovereignty and territorial integrity and unity of the nation very much. Mercedes-Benz's post hurt the feelings of Chinese people.