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Forbidden City + Starbucks = Joke?

January 21, 2007 - by Robin

So what is the big hoo-ha about?

Recently, there is a campaign to kick Starbucks out of Forbidden City. The campaign was initiated by a China Central Television (CCTV) anchorman, Rui Chenggang, who argued that the coffee shop should be removed from one of China's most acclaimed heritage sites as it humiliated Chinese culture. His view is in fact shared by many Chinese who equally think that one of the world's most recognizable trademarks is an eyesore in the ancient city.


Rui also argued that the American coffee giant in the Forbidden City had become a laughing stock among the upper class in western countries since it was not meant to be an upper class thing. Hence, it should not exist in a place like Forbidden City.

Overspreading more than 720,000 square meters, the Forbidden City stores 1.5 million relics, comprising one-sixth of the total relics in Chinese museums. It receives more than 1.6 million overseas visitors on average every year. Starbucks was invited by the museum administration to open an outlet there 6 years ago.

I personally think that a decision now to revoke their business license would seriously make a mockery of Chinese culture. What kind of harm can a coffee shop possibly do to Chinese culture? Why are these people taking it so seriously? By saying what they are saying, do they mean that 5000-year-old Chinese culture pales in comparison to Starbucks' 36-year history? Foreign brands in every imaginable form are sprouting out at the speed of light at almost every corner of every street in China these days. Is China going to lose its strong culture because of this? Don't forget about the demand-supply theory. Do Starbucks or other foreign brands in China only serve foreigners? Why are there so many Chinese who still think that foreign brands are a symbol of wealth and status?

Please do not get me wrong. I am not saying that we should worship or accept everything that is western. Neither am I saying that China should be open to westernization. That is not going to happen anyway in view of its uniqueness and unparalleled history. We have to recognize the fact that the world is flat nowadays and it will only get flatter. Like it or not, globalization is the way to go forward. The world belongs to all of us. In order to co-exist in a harmonious way and to promote common development, we need to adopt a more commonsensical approach. Instead of complaining, why don't we do something constructive to promote Chinese culture overseas? China is already catching up with many of the big boys in many fields from economy to Internet population to automobile, why don't we make culture part of the agenda? With Chinese people's will, perseverance and creativity, I won't be surprised if I find Jiaozi or Kangshifu noodle restaurants in the vicinity of Statue of Liberty or Buckingham Palace in the near future. Would not that be cool?

To me, so long as Starbucks is abiding by the terms of the contract and they are not doing anything belittling Chinese culture or detrimental to the historic integrity of the Forbidden City, it is unreasonable to ask them to leave.

China Blawg's thoughts 0 Comment January 24, 2007, 9:25 am

Draft Labour Law - update

January 19, 2007 - by Rikin

After what was seen by many around the world as taking up a blatant and insistent stance against the proposed labour reforms issued earlier last year, corporations are now beginning to retract their views.

Notably, Nike last month disassociated itself from the views expressed by the American Chamber of Commerce; namely that the Draft in fact goes the opposite way to protecting workers' rights, and that its inception will lead to the migration of many large MNCs from China to other, more viable countries such as India. Such a view has been perceived by many as an indirect threat: The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) represents over 1300 corporations, including 150 Fortune 500 companies...definitely the"big boys in the playground".

Clearly, any company that plays the equal rights card with one hand cannot possibly risk being publicly seen playing an opposing card with the other, without seriously running the risk of losing all genuine credibility in the future.

"Nike has a long history of actively supporting the Chinese government's efforts to strengthen labour laws and protections of workers' rights" (says Nike Vice President Hannah Jones in her response to the AmCham views). Can this therefore lead us to believe that the initial views expressed by AmCham are now no longer shared by Nike (publicly)?

We are told that when the AmCham gave their opinion on the Draft, Nike "...had yet definitely to state a position either internally or externally to AmCham on the draft labour law...". I emphasise the word 'definitely'.

In doing so, I distinctly note the lack of a statement to the effect that 'no such view was ever expressed by Nike'.

I also note the fact that it took two a half a year for Nike to publicly respond to the AmCham's statement, which was issued in the spring of last year).

Could it be the case, that after having (had) expressed (on their behalf) their views against the reforms that propose to improve the working lives of thousands of workers, and instead shamelessly favouring profit margins, certain people are now blushing:- realizing the long term implications that may ensue- and now carefully treading back one step onto more friendly and familiar ground - where their true thoughts and motives are more sufficiently hidden from the public so as not to attract criticism, or jeapordise their future, or any potential stake therein?

Would a capitalist corporation ever do such a thing? Surely not.


China Blawg's thoughts 0 Comment January 19, 2007, 3:57 pm

The Establishment of Anti-Money Laundering Law

January 10, 2007 - by Diana Wang

Money laundering is undeniably one of the biggest problems facing the Chinese economy today, actually it is a problem for any economy, however in PRC it seems this matter is at extremes.

There have been extraordinary stories. For instance the train shipment case, where cardboard boxes filled with 8 million RMB were transported daily to a Hong Kong bank from Luo Wu station in Shen Zhen for nearly a year. Not to mention that early December 2006, a probe into the falsification in business registration launched jointly by the Shanghai office of the central bank and other governmental agencies accidentally exposed the largest ever single money laundering case in the country's history, involving 5 billion RMB. It has also been reported that the amount of money being laundered has increased to about 2% of the PRC's GDP, which is over 200 billion RMB annually.

In 2002, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) began establishing Anti-Money Laundering Committees at executive levels to monitor and report suspicious transactions. This certainly helped with the crack down of money laundering cases. The 3 regulations, comprising of Financial Institution Anti Money Laundering Regulation, Rules for the Administration of Reporting Large Amounts of RMB and suspicious Payment Transactions and the Rules for Administration of Reporting Financial Institutions Large Amounts and Suspicious Foreign Exchange Capital Transactions, created a skeleton framework for the anti-money laundering reporting and information monitoring systems.

China Law 0 Comment January 10, 2007, 3:36 pm