Mercedes-Benz deleted an Instagram post quoting the Dalai Lama --  and there's a chilling reason why

Fred Dufour /AFP/ Getty ImagesThe Mercedes Benz E-Class Long Wheelbase on show during the Auto China 2016 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition.

• Luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz sparked a firestorm on Instagram by posting an inspirational quote from the Dalai Lama.

• After an onslaught of criticism from Chinese Instagram users, the carmaker deleted the post and released an apology,The Washington Post reported.

• The incident marks the latest instance of global corporations capitulating to China over issues pertaining to speech.

Posting an inspirational quote from the Dalai Lama on Instagram is pretty innocuous social media fare, as things go.

But that’s not true for international corporations doing business in China, as Mercedes-Benz discovered Monday.

The Washington Post reported that the luxury automaker was forced to backpedal after igniting a social media firestorm over a photo featuring a superimposed quote from the Tibetan spiritual leader: “Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open.”

Chinese Instagram users expressed outrage against Mercedes-Benz. The Dalai Lama is persona non grata with China’s Communist Party, which considers Tibet part of China and has labelled the spiritual leader a “wolf in monk’s clothing,” according to The Washington Post.

The luxury car-maker capitulated by deleting the offending Instagram post. It also released an apology on Chinese social media site Weibo: “This morning, we released a very incorrect message on international social media. In light of this, we will immediately take measures to deepen our understanding of Chinese culture and values, including our overseas colleagues, to ensure this won’t happen again.”

CNN reported that Chinese consumers bought a quarter of the 2.4 million cars Mercedes-Benz sold last year.

The carmaker is certainly not alone in offending – and subsequently bowing down to – China’s increasingly lucrative market.

Marriott International’s recent spat with Chinese authorities occurred after it was found that the company listed Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, and Macao as countries on its website. Marriott employees were reportedly questioned by Chinese authorities, and many of the brand’s global Twitter accounts went through a social media freeze.

Business Insider’s Tara Francis Chan also reported that Zara, Qantas, and Delta all either released apologies or issued “corrections” after they were found to list Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Tibet as countries.

Do you have a story to share about working for Mercedes-Benz or another international corporation with operations in China? Email [email protected]

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