Mercedes-Benz has issued an apology to the country of China, following a controversy which ensued after the brand posted an ad on Instagram quoting exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
The automaker posted what it called a 'motivational Monday' quote from the figure on Instagram earlier this week. The words, pictured alongside a luxury car, read: 'Look at situations from all angles and you will become more open'.
Some Chinese consumers said they would boycott the car firm in light of the post, which touched a political nerve on social media. The country has previously accused the Dalai Lama of leading a separatist movement, but he maintains that he wants autonomy and to protect the Tibet's distinctive Buddhist culture.
Mercedes has since removed the image, writing a full apology on its Weibo page. In it, the company said it understood the incident had "hurt the feelings of Chinese people, including Mercedes-Benz’s employees in China," adding that the picture contained "extremely mistaken information."
The car brand also pledged to "take concrete action to deepen our understanding, including colleagues abroad, of Chinese culture and values," but it did not specifically mention the Dalai Lama and kept comments locked on the Weibo post.
The apology follows on from Chinese officials criticising advertisers like Marriott and fashion retailer Zara for describing self-ruled Hong Kong and Taiwan as countries on websites and promotional material.
Instagram is among the number of social media platforms the Chinese government tries to restrict access to. The country operates the world's largest censorship system, which blocks access to thousands of sites including Google, Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube.