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German car firm apologizes over ad

By OUYANG SHIJIA/ZHOU JIN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-08 07:10

China hopes foreign enterprises will uphold basic principles while sharing the opportunities of China's development, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday.

Geng made the remark at a daily news briefing after German auto brand Mercedes-Benz posted an Instagram advertisement quoting the Dalai Lama on Monday and then apologized on Tuesday.

It is a basic principle to correct mistakes as soon as you know it either in China or other countries, he said.

"We will continue to cooperate with foreign enterprises and welcome them to share China's development opportunities, and we also hope foreign enterprises follow basic principles," he added.

Mercedes-Benz has apologized to Chinese consumers on Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo for "hurting Chinese people's feelings", right after Mercedes and its parent company Daimler AG on Monday posted a picture of a white Benz on their Instagram accounts and cited the Dalai Lama in the ad.

The post quickly led to online uproar in China, as the Dalai Lama is a political exile who has for a long time used the cloak of religion to engage in separatist activities against China.

Responding to outraged Chinese netizens, Mercedes soon deleted the photo on Instagram and Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service Co Ltd issued an apology on Tuesday on the Chinese Twitter-like social media platform Sina Weibo, saying the post "contains an extremely wrong message and we apologize for this sincerely".

"Although we deleted the related information as quickly as possible, we know well that we've hurt the feelings of people in China," it said via its official account.

"We will immediately take practical actions to deepen our understanding of Chinese culture and values, and in this way regulate our behavior," the statement wrote.

Daimler AG has yet to make a public apology.

Daimler AG has been increasingly expanding in China in recent years. For the first time in 2017, Daimler AG overtook its arch rival Audi AG as the largest premium carmaker by sales in China.

It sold 610,965 Mercedes-Benz and smart-branded cars in China in 2017, accounting for a quarter of its global sales in the year. It marks a new sales record in a single market for the company worldwide.

China has cooperated fully with foreign enterprises during the decades of reform and opening-up, Geng said on Wednesday, adding that the cooperation not only promoted the development of China but also benefited foreign enterprises.

China will be more confident and open since the country entered a new era after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, he added.

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