Mercedes-Benz issued an apology statement Tuesday after an Instagram post struck a nerve with Chinese consumers.
The post, which has since been deleted, pictured one of the German automaker's luxury vehicles on a beach, according to multiple reports. The photo was hashtagged "MondayMotivation" and had a white text overlay quoting the Dalai Lama, a Tibetan spiritual leader.
"Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open," the social media post said.
Mercedes-Benz apparently failed to look at the quote from all angles and drew criticism from its Chinese consumer base.
In 1959, the Dalai Lama was exiled and fled to India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. In China, the Tibetan spiritual leader is still viewed as a separatist.
The post sparked lively discussion on social media, with some consumers saying that by quoting the Dalai Lama, Mercedes-Benz showed it lacks a fundamental understanding of Chinese history and culture.
"Foreign companies do not understand our national conditions, but this is not an excuse to not deal with them," said one netizen, according to the Shanghaiist, a Chinese news site.
Mercedes-Benz's apology statement was posted in Chinese on its official Weibo microblog.
The automaker said it is "very aware of the harm caused by this incident to the Chinese people" and plans to "take practical actions to deepen our understanding of Chinese culture and values."