Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Chinese brewhaha: Campaign to oust Starbucks from Beijing's Forbidden City is heating up

A controversy that has been brewing on the internet is threatening to oust Starbucks from the Forbidden City in Beijing. It began with Rui Chenggang, a popular television anchorman.
"All I want is for Starbucks to move out of the Forbidden City peacefully, quietly. And we'll continue enjoying Starbucks elsewhere in the city," said Rui Chenggang, a popular television anchorman who set off the drive.

By Tuesday, the issue hit the front page of the high-selling Beijing News, and Rui's personal blog on the matter drew a half-million page views and thousands of responses, many of them nationalistic calls for the removal of the Starbucks outlet.

[...]

Rui said he first spotted the Starbucks in the red-walled complex five years ago.

"I was showing some friends around the Forbidden City, and I saw the Starbucks logo. I thought, `Wow! Where did this come from?'" he recalled. "It's totally out of place. I see it as a pollution of the integrity of the Forbidden City, which is the epitome of Chinese culture."
Hard to imagine Starbucks fighting this too hard -- they have some 200 shops in China and expect it to eventually be their biggest market outside the U.S.

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