Carrefour logoAs the Olympic torch passed through Paris a protester tried to steal it from parolympic athlete Jin Jing. She has subsequently stated how she thinks the torch is sacred and has become a bit of a celebrity in China as a result.

So what happened then? There has been a backlash in China against French supermarket chain Carrefour, the world’s second largest retail group that owns many stores in Chin. It’s not the first time Carrefour’s presence in China has caused controversy – previously 3 people died in a stampede for cooking oil. Now there are protests outside Carrefour stores, as shown in these two grainy Youtube films, and as reported by CNN, and efforts to organise a boycott of the stores.

There’s some sense of irony here as Carrefour was one of the first retailers to remove Danish products from its shelves in the Middle East at the time of the Jyllands-Posten Muhhammad cartoons controversy, even displaying signs for shoppers to tell them how they had removed Danish produce (see this news story from UAE in English).

So what will Carrefour’s response be? Distance themselves from the right of protesters in France to make their views known? It’s a hard one to play. I also don’t expect any notes of support from Arla Foods to the chief executive of Carrefour.

More generally, while millions of people in Europe will have been able to relate to the pro-Tibet protests, what are any of them actually going to do practically? I’m sure that plenty of the people involved in the protests will be going out shopping this Saturday in high streets across Europe full to bursting with Chinese-manufactured electronic goods and clothes. Does their anger about Tibet translate into changed consumer choices in the way the Chinese are willing to boycott a French supermarket? I think not.

4 Comments

  1. I am sorry, if I posted the comments in the wrong place.

    I am just unhappy seeing CNN’s report that Chinese’ boycott toward Carrefour is just because the route of torch relay in Paris is shortened. I think CNN is deliberately uglify China. So I posted the comments.

    Sorry for the disturbing.

  2. I don’t expect my comments be posted by CNN, because I know CNN hates China. I also know that so-called “Tibetan protest” is totally a plot led by westerns. But I still want to express my feelings toward the boycott to Carrefour. I think, every person has conscience and justice, not except CNN’s employees. So I just hope you can think it over when you are free and judge what you have been done is correct or not in your deep heart.

    Xizang (Tibet) has been an integral part of China since about 1200 A.D., much longer than America becomes the home of today’s American. Tibetan, as well as other minorities, has the same social status as Han nation. (In fact, I am a member of Hui nation in China.) Since Tibet’s liberation in early 1950s, China has spent much effort improving Tibet, an example is the construction of the Tibetan railway. Tibetan, along with other minorities in China, even owns special rights than Han nation, e.g. they don’t need to follow the family planning policy. What’s more, Tibet has been an autonomous region of China since the very beginning of liberation.

    However, in Paris, when the torch reached, the flag of Xizang (Tibet) ‘s independence was deliberately plugged in Paris authorities’ building. French newspaper also posted “Give China a Slap” in its cover edition. What’s more, when some protesters attacking the disabled girl holding the torch, the French police did nothing.

    We have to wonder, why? Why French looks so strange? Why French hates China so much? What on earth we did is wrong?

    It’s later learned that Louis Vuitton group, the biggest shareholder of Carrefour, contributed much money to Dalai supporting the riot in Tibet. So comes the boycott toward Carrefour.

    Until recently, I noticed CNN’s anti-China’s report. Throughout your reports, I discover uglification and insult of China. I think, your goal has already attained, really. Your readers have held bias on China already, as you want them to do. Besides, you made me so sad.

    However, though we are insulted, I don’t feel I am shamed, in the contrary, I feel so proud, much prouder than before. Because I know, we Chinese are a nation full of justice and responsibility, while there is a nation full of unshamed thought and evil intentions, and CNN belongs to the shamed nation.

  3. Hang on. I’m not CNN. I don’t even really like CNN… So why the anger at me? Also if you read the blog entry I think it’s clear that I can see why people might want to boycott Carrefour. Plus there are plenty of people who know the China-Tibet issue far better than I do, so I am not going to go into the pros-and-cons of that here.

  4. giacomo

    It’s not going to be easy as it was with Soviet Union…

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