The insanity continues

No, not Iraq, not terrorism, not the Bush administration’s lies and ineptitude. No, something far more important.

A Chinese lawmaker revived calls for the removal of a Starbucks coffee shop from Beijing’s famed Forbidden City, saying its presence was a smear on China’s historical legacy, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday.

Jiang Hongbin, a deputy from the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, said he submitted a motion to the National People’s Congress, the country’s legislature, to close the outlet immediately, Xinhua said. Starbucks “can no longer be allowed to taint China’s national culture,” Jiang was quoted as saying.

The outlet has stirred controversy among Chinese nationalists ever since it opened in 2000 in a side hall of the 587-year-old former home of China’s Ming and Qing dynasty emperors, now a museum visited by 7 million people each year.

Calls for it to close grew again in January when a television host launched an online campaign to toss it out. Museum managers and the government haven’t responded publicly to the demands. It wasn’t clear whether Jiang’s motion would be discussed by the nearly 3,000-member congress, which meets in full session only once a year and is widely regarded as a rubber stamp for policies decided by the government.

Defenders say the Starbucks is popular with tourists and its rent helps pay for the upkeep of the sprawling vermillion-walled, 178-acre complex of villas and gardens, now undergoing a thorough renovation ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Summer Games. However, Jiang said the integrity of Chinese culture should take precedence over funding concerns.

Yes, in light of all the problems facing China it makes perfect sense for the National People’s Congress to stop everything to consider the most pressing crisis of them all, the cultural contamination being caused not by spitting or sleazy vendors or counterfeit whatever, but by the most vile contaminator of them all, Starbucks coffee.

I know, we’ve talked about this before, as has every other blog. But seeing it portrayed as “a smear on China’s historical legacy” is just too painful. If they are so concerned about their historical legacy being smeared, why don’t they start taking down all those hideous portraits and statues of the Great Butcher Mao? Why focus on the very most trivial, very most minute and insignificant of issues? Is this China’s version of a flag-burning amendment? Are they trying to imitate Bill O’Reilly’s foaming at the mouth over an imaginary “War on Christmas”? Whatever it is that’s inspired it, this has to be one of the most hare-brained, ill-conceived causes the Chinese could possibly have adopted. It is sensationally, breathtakingly counter-productive, epitomizing for all the world to see the paranoid, prickly, irrational thought patterns that still emanate from the grey matter of some of the nation’s leaders. It reminds me of my own president’s sickeningly pathetic speech to Americans telling them gay marriage was such a threat to “the sanctity of marriage” that nothing less than a constitutional amendment was required to ban it.

I have no tolerance for such blatant pandering to people’s base emotions, which is what the Starbucks BS is all about, pandering to those who see the West as evil and base and China as pure and great, what with 5 million years of culture and all. Come on. Count how many people have died in Chinese coal mines in the past two weeks. Then tell me the most pressing of all the threats to the Chinese people and their sacred and inviolable culture is a friggin’ Starbucks invisibly tucked into the bowels of the Forbidden City. Sheesh.

The Discussion: 87 Comments

“If they are so concerned about their historical legacy being smeared, why don’t they start taking down all those hideous portraits and statues of the Great Butcher Mao? Why focus on the very most trivial, very most minute and insignificant of issues?”

Absolutely. Given the location’s proximity to the scene of another glorious chapter in China’s ‘historical legacy’, all we need to complete the irony is for the tanks to roll in for Starbucks’ demolition.

We’ll be needing a new ‘tank man’ for sure.

March 13, 2007 @ 12:36 am | Comment

“Heh.” Good one, Stuart!

March 13, 2007 @ 12:42 am | Comment

Is this evidence of someone jumping on the bandwagon and trying to make a name for himself, or of xenophobia in China?

March 13, 2007 @ 1:02 am | Comment

First, IMHO it’s a pretty dumb idea to reject Starbucks in the Forbidden City so long as it pays good money. Eventually some Chinese vendor(s) will pay low fees for the same retail space, and end up either costing the upkeep of the museum, or worse yet tax payers’ money. Those vendor(s) aren’t an integral part of the Forbidden City any way, so what exactly is the point?

If you think about it, it’s actually democracy at work. In India they vote in a whole lot more of this brain-dead non-sense. In China at least the xenophobic fervor sometimes gets dampened by the pragmatical technocrats.

Xenophobia isn’t a minority act in the US sometimes, Richard. Case in point, the US congress rejected Dubai Ports World’s takeover bid of a few US ports’ management, and forced CNOOC to drop its takeover bid of Unocal.

March 13, 2007 @ 2:13 am | Comment

Actually the best example is to change “french fried” to “freedom fries”. It is worse. This change is actually implemented. Even worse, this change spreads across the country.

At that time, I was really amused and thought that a fair amount of US citizens are simply really really dumb, and arrogant.

I also think democracy is fundamentally vulnerable to the demagogue pandering xenophobia.

March 13, 2007 @ 4:45 am | Comment

I’ve heard there is xenophobia in Finland, too!

I guess that also proves something about Starbucks in the Forbidden City, but I’m not sure what.

March 13, 2007 @ 5:34 am | Comment

I think it’s probably because the cadres find Starbucks coffee to have a consistently burnt and overly acidic quality. I’m guessing that they would also prefer that a strictly Free Trade coffee purveyor was in that spot. My mole in Peking tells me that these two items have been rushed to the top of super secret high level talks that may OR may not occur in a cave in North Eastern Shaaanxi province on an undisclosed date in Mid-ISH May. They really are quite a sophisticated bunch.You’ve been warned.

March 13, 2007 @ 5:54 am | Comment

Do you think Pete’s Coffee would be a better fit? I mean it is from Bay Area and so would be more sensitive to the Forbidden City’s overwhelming 5,000 years of history.

March 13, 2007 @ 10:20 am | Comment

They’ll probably tear down the Forbidden City in a few years anyway. Meantime, Let the masses drink their Joe.

March 13, 2007 @ 10:28 am | Comment

Tear down those Starbucks, and replace them with Trang Nguyen cafes! As a postscript, I note that when the Taiwanese wanted to fight the coffee drinking trend, they started pushing specialty tea houses.

JXie. I’n not sure how much of some congressional idiocy is xenophobia, and how much is smokescreen to cater to a particularly powerful constituent. Though such arguments are a trojan horse, in that the idiot fringe receives it as revealed truth.

March 13, 2007 @ 11:00 am | Comment

the best example is to change “french fried” to “freedom fries”. It is worse. This change is actually implemented. Even worse, this change spreads across the country.

Wrong. This never spread across the country. The story of how the congresman recommended this spread everywhere, but they remained forever French Fries. The congressman later came out and said his “freedom fries” initiative was a foolish mistake on his part and he apologized for it. No retail establishment that I know of ever changed the names of thei French fries to fredom fries. The phrase never caught on anywhere, and Americans laughed at this stupidity.

March 13, 2007 @ 11:10 am | Comment

Forbidden City is a symbol of Chinese history and tradition. When you visit you, it is a solemn visit, and a pure visit. You should be taken back to the mood of history and relive the history. Having a Starbucks in Foridden City is like seeing a piece of cow dumping in a beautiful garden.

Sorry West, but Starbucks will not stay in Forbidden City.

March 13, 2007 @ 11:18 am | Comment

There’s a Haagan Dazs in the grounds of the Royal Palace in Bangkok, and I never heard anyone complain about that. I even heard King Rama IX is partial to a Mint Choccy Chip cornet once in awhile.

March 13, 2007 @ 11:19 am | Comment

Starbucks makes pretty good Premium ice cream. Maybe a Chou Doufu flavor would be a respectful nod to the Great Helmsman. Thus proving how very Culturally sensitive the Titans from Seattle are. Dung loved that shit. (Stinky Doufu, I doubt he ever saw a freezer in his lifetime)

March 13, 2007 @ 11:32 am | Comment

MY mistake…my lovely wife just pointed out that the Chinese invented ice and then….Ice Cream in B.C 1376

March 13, 2007 @ 11:34 am | Comment

Please, that was just sugar over ice. Nothing compared to the wonder of Italian gelato.

(P.S. I vote for a Ben and Jerry’s! Delicious and socially conscious.)

March 13, 2007 @ 11:43 am | Comment

Actually, I think Starbucks should be in the Forbidden City because the Chinese invented coffee.

7,652 years ago, Lao Wang was sipping his Rabbit Dropping tea when he noticed a plant with berries that resembled the long esteemed fancy taste rabbit turds from which he made his world renowned tea. The resulting tea was interesting but not up the high standards of Chinese cuisine. He sold the plant to some passing Arab traders and the rest is history.

March 13, 2007 @ 11:46 am | Comment

Actually, I got it wrong. Apparently, they first invented Ice Cream (ice with sugar) and then the ice part.This was of course before they had invented plant life and water… I’m still marveling at such invention. Italians are warm hearted and have high sex drive. They cannot be trusted with financial matters.

March 13, 2007 @ 11:47 am | Comment

” No retail establishment that I know of ever changed the names of thei French fries to fredom fries. ”

Neal Rowland, owner of fast-food restaurant Cubbie’s, sold his fried potato strips under the name “freedom fries”.

There is no need to get defensive about how dumb US people are. The fact is they are much dumber than Europeans. Europeans are much more mature and sophisiticated.

Also, US has a good track record of being xenophobic. US is much slower in setting slaves free than other industrilized countries. Also, in early 20 century, Chinese was routine target for politicians for their sins, i.e, how hard they would work for their job. The sentiment was so strong that Chinese was not allowed to join US. The present day attack on China during election makes people wonder whether this is just another form of old tradition.

By the way, in case you are ignorant about history, when South Africa had its notorious apartheid, it was US who steadfastly defend South Africa, even when many European countries backed down.

March 13, 2007 @ 11:55 am | Comment

As a dumb American I couldn’t agree more. We must have dumbed ourselves to the top. If that’s true then China is definately the Up and Comer. Did I miss a War with China somehow?

March 13, 2007 @ 12:01 pm | Comment

Steve, If you give it another 100 years the abuse of the Chinese in America,the bombing of the embassy in Belgrade, slavery,apartheid in South Africa, Hurrican Katrina and G.W Bush hizzowndamnself will look really good to Chinese people. You can’t see it yet..But you will. There are many events in History like this. The Cultural Revolution springs to mind. Time gives us a different perspective. In many ways China is way ahead of the curve.

March 13, 2007 @ 12:07 pm | Comment

So Steve, one restaurant – ONE – in America used the term Freedom Fries you are saying? Well, maybe it was five, or even 50. I suspect the number isa actually zero, based on the non-example you provided. My point was you drop bad information into your comments as though they are facts, and you therefore rob yourself of credibility. Now you tell us that, well, it was just Cubbies, or at lewast the owner of Cubbies once sold “freedom fries” to a friend…But here is what you originally wrote:

the best example is to change “french fried” o “freedom fries”. It is worse. This change is actually implemented. Even worse, this change spreads across the country.

Was this change implemented across America, or did one restaurnat Cubbies implement it while the rest of America laughed?

Sorry to get us off topic a bit, but Steve loves to drop unsubstantiated bombs about America and then high-tail out. Americans can be as stupid as anyone else, but your freedom fries example falls flat – it was never adopted by America. When you say things like freedom fries “spread across the country” you reveal the depth of your ignorance and willingness to regurgitate foolish talking points.

March 13, 2007 @ 12:57 pm | Comment

Cubbies is in Beaufort, Carteret County, North Carolina. It is THE Home of the Freedom Fries. Neal “Beaufort’s Buford” Rowland is the Proprietor.Buford says: ” The French Guvnent is pure wrong..But we ain’t touchin’ French Dressing YET” and The Choo Choo Grill in Grand Wizard…I mean RAPIDS, Michigan soon followed suit. Just good ol’ Americans doing what they do…. Yessir.

March 13, 2007 @ 1:11 pm | Comment

I’ve never even heard of Cubbies, but what a cute name! Eat too many of those freedom fries, and you become a chubby cubbie!
To get back on topic: it seems that however dumb Steve may claim that the American people are, they will, in the end, never be as dumb as Steve. Another Gold medal!

March 13, 2007 @ 1:17 pm | Comment

Before you all get too emotionally spent, be aware that at this stage it’s only a motion by a lawmaker. It’s not even sure the motion will be discussed, much less passed. Save some orgasm for the real penetration, will you?

Lirelou, of course they were the result of some lobbying. But the momentum they picked up were all xenophobia. Unocal shareholders were the ones who lost out in the short term.

March 13, 2007 @ 1:20 pm | Comment

Whats an orgasm?

March 13, 2007 @ 1:22 pm | Comment

Dosen’t Starbucks have something like 5000 years of history?

March 13, 2007 @ 2:03 pm | Comment

You’re confusing Chock Full O’ Nuts with Starbucks. They invented Chicory waaay back. In fact, chicory was the first cash crop.

March 13, 2007 @ 2:16 pm | Comment

I thought the Forbidden City Starbucks was quite a good idea. And even better was the Great Wall Starbucks.

After being harassed for hours while trying to tour (buy this, buy thatm you want a shirt, here’s a pretty postcard, etc.). and then being harassed while walking past the shanty-store-town, it was nice not have to physically defend myself from the incredible amount of …… (I cannot seem to find the correct word for these people). Why are they allowed on the Wall anyway?

March 13, 2007 @ 2:50 pm | Comment

While American’s xenophobia can be very ugly at times (JXie’s examples on China’s bid for Unocal and Dubai Port takeover bid are good examples), Steve’s example of freedom fries is just silly and laughable.

March 13, 2007 @ 3:33 pm | Comment

Forbidden City is a symbol of Chinese history and tradition. When you visit you, it is a solemn visit, and a pure visit.

I agree with you entirely, HongXing, except that I’d change every instance of “is” there to “should be.” As things stand, the Forbidden City is swamped with vendors inside and outside selling instant noodles, postcards, plastic replicas of the Eiffel Tower, and anything else that will make a buck. Identically hatted tour groups follow loudspeaker-toting guides around the imperial city, disrupting whatever moments of tranquility and introspection one might manage to find amid the noise, crowds, hawkers, and underwhelming exhibits.

I don’t even necessarily disagree with you about whether or not there should be a Starbucks in the Forbidden City. But I think there are more real problems that should be dealt with first.

In terms of obtrusiveness, anyway, the “Renovation funded by American Express” signs are way more offensive than the un-signed Starbucks. I’ve heard that Rui Chenggang was planning to go after those signs next — oddly, people don’t seem to be getting on board with that one.

March 13, 2007 @ 4:47 pm | Comment

Where are all these wonderful Chinese “Patriots” when the government knocks down every other Cultural gem the the country possesses. Where are they when the air has turned to pure poison? The water undrinkable. The billion poor having no recourse against the rich. Silent.That’s the sign of the weak.

March 13, 2007 @ 4:59 pm | Comment

I spoke out strongly against US xenophobia re. the Unocal and Dubai Ports storms-in-teacups.

However, if a faction in the US decided to take up a campaign similar to the Starbucks non-issue – say, maybe, a protest against a Chinese restaurant near the nation’s capital or a national park – the public would roar with ridicule, the way most of us did with the freedom fries nonsense. People would find the sole culprit to be the birdbrains raising such preposterous “issues.” The comparison with Unocal and Dubai Ports doesn’t hold up in my estimation; no one said anything about staining our national honor or diminishing our culture. The arguments, stupid as they were, dealt with national security, not some BS about the purity of our culture.

March 13, 2007 @ 5:13 pm | Comment

It’s all well and good for the Chinese to destroy and murder fellow Chinese and Chinese culture but Starbucks is bad……Mao was a great leader despite the fact that he killed..upteen millions of Chinese BUT down the road from his Cult-ish mausoleum an American business is selling bad COFFEE and it’s a disgrace to Chinese culture. What is wrong here?

March 13, 2007 @ 5:21 pm | Comment

The irony here is that only a large and impersonal chain like Starbucks could ever have gotten permission to open a coffee shop in the Forbidden City anyway. Hopefully this official infighting will blow up into a giant national scandal and all of the internal payoffs and corruption involved will start leaking into the press.

It’s unfortunate that placing a hard moritorium on government efforts to plan urban development would be the best way to ensure Beijing gentrifies and develops in a livable fashion. I’m still pissed off about Xiushui, and highly doubt the people profiting from the new shopping plazas and boutique stores around Sanlitun and Houhai are foreign.

March 13, 2007 @ 5:45 pm | Comment

“So Steve, one restaurant – ONE – in America used the term Freedom Fries you are saying? Well, maybe it was five, or even 50. I suspect the number isa actually zero, based on the non-example you provided.”

http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/03/11/sprj.irq.fries/

“Across the country, some private restaurants have done the same.”

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-03-11-freedom-fries_x.htm

“The name changes follow similar actions by restaurants around the country protesting French opposition to the administration’s Iraq war plans.”

So, it is not ONE. It is SOME. You may think the left like you is representative of US. Unfortunately you are not. You may call commentators on Free Republic as idiot. But you are actually an outlier of US population.

Why do you get so defensive about Freedom Frie
s? You may think it is laughable. But many Amer
icans are genuinely patriotic and proud of the act. This kind of act showing up in Congress indicates that there is a strong sentiment against French.

March 13, 2007 @ 6:06 pm | Comment

Okay Steve, maybe for a week there were “some” but in America this was perceived more as a joke than anything else – the press had a field day with it, making the Republicans look like true idiots, which the guy who wrote the legislation later admitted to being as he apologized for it. To compare this with the rush on the Chinese BBSs to shut the Starbucks is insane. This was not a popular movement, there was no demand in news articles or TV shows. It was a goofy publicity stunt that everyone laughed at. I would say no Americans are proud of the Freedom Fries act, and it was forgotten like a bad dream shortly after the media circus around it died away.

I just went and read those links. I would say maybe the House cafeteria and maybe one restaurant changed the name to Freedom Fries, temporarily, and all the other tens of thousands of restaurants laughed. Okay, next topic. One reference in one paper to “restaurants across the country” without a single reference to a single restaurant makes me highly skeptical.

March 13, 2007 @ 8:18 pm | Comment

One demagogue and the publicity has been amazing and I am guessing that if you asked ten people who have read anything on this, 8 of them would say China has thrown Starbucks out of the Forbidden City, 1 would say China has thrown Starbucks out of the country, and only 1 would realize this is just one guy. I am basing these numbers on a completely unscientific review of how the blogosphere is covering this.

March 13, 2007 @ 8:56 pm | Comment

“To compare this with the rush on the Chinese BBSs to shut the Starbucks is insane. This was not a popular movement, there was no demand in news articles or TV shows.”

No. It is no insane. It is quite comparable. Do not compare Chinese BBS board with NY times. Compare it with BBS board, such as Free Republic. You will see human emotion is not that different at all.

Again, you may think guys at Free Republic are extremist and you belongs to the mainstream of US. Try to talk to any expatriate on the right. You are far out on the left on a lot of issues. That’s why I think you are an outlier. Do not get me wrong. That means you are more sophisticated.

” I am guessing that if you asked ten people who have read anything on this, 8 of them would say China has thrown Starbucks out of the Forbidden City, 1 would say China has thrown Starbucks out of the country,and only 1 would realize this is just one guy. ”

Fair statement. This raises an important question, i.e, media has a tendency to chase sensational stuff and how that could shape public opinion.

March 13, 2007 @ 11:01 pm | Comment

Richard, I agree that this type of thing is similar to our flag-burning amendment, but let me get the group’s opinion on two things.

1) Does this have anything to with the fact that we’re in the capital, where local and national politics inevitably mix?
2) And I ask that because, if you were back in the States, would you be a little irritated by Starbucks coming into your neighbor potentially disrupting your neighborhood “vibe” with it’s corporate coffee?

By the way, I have nothing against Starbucks…just lived near two areas that fought against their entry. Both lost.

March 13, 2007 @ 11:08 pm | Comment

I would say that regardless of our varying emotional reactions to this story, the smart thing for Starbucks to do would be to get out on their own and willingly act as if they’re upholding the sanctity of Chinese culture, sort of like improv. Provided that a replacement source of upkeep funding is available despite their leaving the Forbidden City, Starbucks would get all sorts of favorable press and would be able to open lots of other bigger stores in more high-traffic locations. Just a thought…

March 13, 2007 @ 11:13 pm | Comment

I am confused – didn’t starbucks need permission to have a cafe in the forbidden city? or did the evil americans build it overnight while no-one was looking? hard to see how they could blame this on the foreigners or call it cultural contamination, given it is self-inflicted

March 13, 2007 @ 11:37 pm | Comment

Louis, I would have no objections to a Starbucks moving into my neighborhood, as long as it didn’t create traffic problems or pollution or make a lot of noise. The Starbucks has been there for years, never bothering a soul. It’s a manufactured issue.

Steve, I don’t want to say another word about freedom fries. I totally agree with you. The Freedom Fries issue created a wave of serious protest across US blogs and bulletin boards as Americans rallied to the Freedom Fries cause. Restaurants everywhere changed their menus. Everyone reading this who has been to America personally knows of 4.5 restaurants, on average, that made this change due to the groundswell of public demand. Reporters did not report the story as a joke, but took strong sides, one editorial after another demanding the immediate end of “French” in any context. To this day, most restaurants sell Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast. So yes, you win Steve. The emotional outpourings we read on blogs and BBSs and in statements to the media by lawmakers outraged by a Starbucks in the Forbidden City directly parallels what we saw with Freedom Fries, where countless Americans rose with righteous indignation to assert American purity of thought and virtue by banning the use of “French” in nearly every context, a ban that is still in effect to this day, and some even suggested dynamiting the Statue of Liberty. Yes, a fair, informed analogy. And that’s the end of that topic.

Matt, you make a good point. But they should stick around as long as they can, as this is a godsend of free publicity.

March 14, 2007 @ 12:01 am | Comment

This thread is a model of a high percentage of the discussions about China in the blogosphere between Chinese and “foriegners” —

A: something, something about China.
B: The US does it too. And Americans are fat and dumb!

Some people can’t comprehend that that is a logical fallacy.

B: The US has problems in Iraq.
A: China invaded Vietnam and Mao was a monster!

See?

This is the intellectual equivalent of “Oh yeah, well your mom is so fat…”

Ok, back to discussing freedom fries and slavery.

March 14, 2007 @ 12:23 am | Comment

88, you are so spot-on. And I fall into the trap of arguing back against the inane comparisons, becuase I simply can’t stant inanity. Maybe I should just shut up and presume readers are intelligent enough to recognize nonsense when they see it.

March 14, 2007 @ 12:41 am | Comment

Richard, to be fair… Isn’t you the one who started the comparison to the US (flag-burning amendment, O’Reilly’s “War on Christmas”), and breathtakingly expanded a motion by a single lawmaker, to something about the grey matter of some of the nation’s leaders?

The response though, was utterly predictable.

March 14, 2007 @ 1:21 am | Comment

“A: something, something about China.
B: The US does it too. And Americans are fat and dumb!

Some people can’t comprehend that that is a logical fallacy. ”

No, that is not logical fallacy. That is what is called “put things in perspective”. Replace Richard’s last sentence

“I have no tolerance for such blatant pandering to people’s base emotions, which is what the French Fries BS is all about, pandering to those who see the French as weak and anti-America, and base US as righteous and great, what with great power and courage and all. ”

Can you see the similarity? Instead of shallow, self-righteous comments, this angle can help you grow up and really see how human nature is playing. We are all human beings after all.

March 14, 2007 @ 2:35 am | Comment

No, that is not logical fallacy.

Yes, it is. See “tu quoque”.

March 14, 2007 @ 2:55 am | Comment

P.S. Aren’t “frites”, strictly speaking, Belgian? ๐Ÿ˜‰

March 14, 2007 @ 3:03 am | Comment

>>No, that is not logical fallacy.

Actually, it is a prime example of a logical fallacy, ad hominem tu quoque:

‘Tu quoque (Latin for “You, too” or “You, also”) is an argument that asserts or implies that a certain position is false and/or should be disregarded because its proponent fails to consistently act in accordance with that position; it attempts to show that a criticism or objection applies equally to the person making it. It can be considered an ad hominem argument, since it focuses on the opposite party itself, rather than its positions.’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_quoque

>>Can you see the similarity?

You fail to see that what the US government does or what the French do or what Martians say has no bearing on the issue of Starbucks in the Forbidden City. Your goal is simply to attack someone personally by claiming he is a hypocrite.

Richard isn’t the congressman who suggested changing the name of french fries to freedom fries. Richard isn’t the US government. So even on that account alone, your claim of hypocrisy doesn’t hold up.

Also, I don’t think anyone here claimed that no Americans are xenophobic — that simply has nothing to do with Starbucks in the Forbidden city (just the usual straw man) — so you pointing out some instance that supposedly proves Americans are xenophobic proves nothing. Even if every American were xenophobic, would that make Chinese less so? Would that somehow contradict the point Richard was making (i.e., that China probably has more important things to worry about than Starbucks in the Forbidden City)? The two simply have no relation.

March 14, 2007 @ 3:08 am | Comment

Richard, to be fair… Isn’t you the one who started the comparison to the US (flag-burning amendment, O’Reilly’s “War on Christmas”), and breathtakingly expanded a motion by a single lawmaker, to something about the grey matter of some of the nation’s leaders?

Second that opinion.

Although honestly, I sincerely doubt that one NPC delegate out of 3000 delegates in one of the most powerless legislatures in the world really has that much pull. Compared to legislators around the world, what this guy is saying is mild. Didn’t a colorado rep advocate nuking Iran the other day? And didn’t bill frist intervene in the Schaivo Fiasco?

Much ado about nothing…

March 14, 2007 @ 4:02 am | Comment

“Your goal is simply to attack someone personally by claiming he is a hypocrite. ”

Absolutely false. It is interesting how a misunderstanding can ferment so quickly. I do not see how my comments will imply that.

“so you pointing out some instance that supposedly proves Americans are xenophobic proves nothing. Even if every American were xenophobic, would that make Chinese less so?”

When “Freedom fries” news was reported, did you see that NY times/Wapost had an editorial next day denouncing it as xenophobia? No, at least to my knowledge.

What does that tell you? It shows that, yeah, maybe it is nonsense, but nobody wants to run against pariotism “buzzword” at that time. At least not openly, or at least not until Iraq become a fiasco. Hillary is a typical example.

My point is that, try to be a little sophisticated. Learn and think before rushing to judgement. As for starbucks thing, I would like to see it stay (and I think it will). But if it get on the nerves of too many people and people changes to tea house, that is fine with me too.

“Jumping to Xenophobia” conclusion is an old trick played by western media, i.e., simplify and exaggerate.

March 14, 2007 @ 4:47 am | Comment

Why does Jiang Hongbin from Heilongjiang care about Starbucks in Beijing? To defend China’s national culture of course!

It wouldn’t be because he is Chairman of China & Thailand Joint Heilongjiang China Tai Enterprises Co., Ltd, a company that happens to be a unit of Thailand’s largest agriculture conglomerate: the Charoen Pokphand Group, that just happens to have a consumer food service division, that happens to be a competitor of Starbucks in Asia?

http://www.china.org.cn/english/archiveen/28586.htm
http://www.cpgroup.cn/english/web/index.asp

March 14, 2007 @ 5:02 am | Comment

>>I do not see how my comments will imply that.

So if richard were Nigerian, you would have of course used the example of freedom fries and American “hypocrisy” to somehow contradict his points, right? You used “freedom fries” as a way of saying, “Oh yeah, you do that too.” You think this somehow refutes a point he was making about a Chinese issue — despite the fact the richard didn’t “do that too.” He in fact condemned the freedom fries ploy as a ridiculous joke — as most Americans did at the time, and now.

>When “Freedom fries” news was reported, did you see that NY times/Wapost had an editorial next day denouncing it as xenophobia?

Although your premise is ridiculous to begin with (that op-eds from two newspapers represent what Americans think), I’ll knock down your argument anyway: Yes, I did. Newspapers and the news media generally pointed out how stupid it was.

One small example, the Washington Post printed an editorial on 3/15/2003: “Libert, galit . . . Stupidit”

“Reps. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) should be ashamed of themselves — for intentionally insulting one of our oldest allies, for acquitting themselves like spoiled children, but most of all for doing so on the American taxpayer’s dime. Talk about wasteful government spending. ”

I could find another 20 op-eds and articles from that time period expressing similar sentiments, but that would be a waste of time.

>>At least not openly, or at least not until Iraq become a fiasco. Hillary is a typical example.

Yeah, no one openly opposed the Iraq war in the US before the invasion. I don’t know which USA you are talking about — I guess the one in your imagination.

>>My point is that, try to be a little sophisticated.

Some people might think this is funny coming from someone who uses logical fallacies as the entire basis of his arguments.

March 14, 2007 @ 5:46 am | Comment

“Yeah, no one openly opposed the Iraq war in the US before the invasion. I don’t know which USA you are talking about — I guess the one in your imagination. ”

Since when we are taling about Iraq war? We are talking about Freedom fries. Talking about logical fallacy.

“should be ashamed of themselves — for intentionally insulting one of our oldest allies, ”

So, did Wapo denounce it as xenophobia? No. That is my point. You can say that particular motion is nonsense or total waste of money and time.

“label it xenophobia” right away is just that old trick. Again, simplify and exaggerate.

March 14, 2007 @ 6:17 am | Comment

On the silly matter of French Fries, it is two sentences I found on Wikipedia:

****
In 2005, Walter B. Jones, having arrived at the belief that the United States went to war “with no justification”, said of the “freedom fries” episode: “I wish it had never happened.

By July 2006, the House had quietly changed the name in all its restaurants back to the original “French fries”.
****

Richard is right that the term is never popular with most average American. But it is to some social elites and they used it to stir up things. They distanced themselves from it only when the war became unpopular.

March 14, 2007 @ 7:21 am | Comment

“Social Elites” ha.he, ha,he, ha…. What a grasp of America you have. I’ve always been concerned that the Chinese understand the U.S. better than the U.S. understands China. I feel better now..Boom!

March 14, 2007 @ 10:00 am | Comment

T_co, the war on Xmas and flag-burinng amendments are”real issues: in that they did get serious media coverage and are seen by many (idiots) as urgent problems. Bill O’reilly gives such issues considerable time on TV, and there were many pieces on TV and in print about the proposed flag-burning amendment. No one ever gave that sort of attention to the Freedom Fries BS. Yeah, it got written us – asw a sign of how demented its propnent was, a proponent who later admitted it was a stupid and misguided effort. No one saw it as an urgent issue. Bush I campaigned for the flag-buring amanedment. Had Bush II done the same for FFries, he’d have faced howling laughter; it was nonsense from day one.

Steve successfully derailed this topic with the old trick of changing the subect to some imagined or obscenely irrelevant issue in the US. And I took the bait. As site owner, sometimes I take advantage of my right to have the last word. We get back to Starbucks in the Forbiden City now or this thread ends. Thanks for your cooperation.

March 14, 2007 @ 10:18 am | Comment

Starbucks has really acrid, over priced, abysmal Coffee . It’s a step in the RIGHT direction. I mean …where else can you pay $3 for such a place in history? The Chinese are actually, bowing,KOWTOWING (again) to a Foreign company… at the expense of Chinese people…Now…get this….For MONEY! This is big news.

March 14, 2007 @ 10:31 am | Comment

Well, I will say that there is a strong current of xenophobia in America (mainly among political and religious conservatives.) Those people also tend to believe in American exceptionalism, and ironically they are the ones setting America back – make it sometimes seem an insular, insecure and (dare I say it?) provincial nation. But yeah, let’s give the “freedom fries” thing a rest. It was a bad example to begin with and heck – they were slagging on the French! America’s love-hate relationship with France and all things French predates the Iraq War by a long shot.

But back to Starbucks: it’s definitely overpriced, but personally I don’t think it’s absymal.

(Okay I admit I am addicted to their iced caramel macchiatos YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?)

March 14, 2007 @ 11:45 am | Comment

Nausiccaa, I’ll be real honest with you here. I have no idea what you just said.I can certainly understand that you have a different opi nion..but you must speak English.

March 14, 2007 @ 1:15 pm | Comment

English? Or American? ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Seriously, Ting Bu Dong, either you have been hitting the crack pipe for far too long, or I have.)

March 14, 2007 @ 1:31 pm | Comment

To help get back on topic, I can answer this question:

“Why focus on the very most trivial, very most minute and insignificant of issues?”

It’s easy to do. Who’s gonna fight back? The only people who look bad are the westerners. And you know how popular we are these days.

And Beijing is trying to clean up for next year. We all know that’s gonna be a chore. But either it is an internal issue (admission that 4000 years of culture does not a clean or polite city make) or we get to blame the ‘others’ for forcing themselves in where they are not wanted and causing these issues.

Not our fault – it’s them!

March 14, 2007 @ 2:06 pm | Comment

Oh, and ’88’, how come you have not tied your March 8th post into the above discussion?

March 14, 2007 @ 2:08 pm | Comment

The USA one of the first nations to emancipate the slaves of the country.

March 14, 2007 @ 2:09 pm | Comment

>>Oh, and ’88’, how come you have not tied your March 8th post into the above discussion?

eh? Not sure what you mean.

March 14, 2007 @ 2:15 pm | Comment

Watch, Hedwig, Start to stop, It should be mandatory.”Like I cut the leg’s of the whales…”

March 14, 2007 @ 3:03 pm | Comment

RuoPan — That’s a great find. Nice bit of proletarian detective work there, and a compelling take on the matter. Don’t know if it’ll be enough to elevate the discussion here, but bravo.

I’m not sure if these guys are necessarily in direct competition with Starbucks, though. They’ve got fast-food franchises, but their beverage offerings seem to extend only to pearl milk tea and bags of wulong tea. Franchise-wise, something domestic like รฉยยฟรฉยฃลฝรฅย โ€š or รคยปโ„ขรคยธโ€บรฆลพโ€”.

March 14, 2007 @ 5:43 pm | Comment

To reply to Hongxing if it is really that obvious where is it the first time I wandered around the Forbidden City I never noticed it at all.

I agree if it is installed in a way that detracts from the spendour of the original buildings it shouldn’t be given planning permission, but if tastefully done to fit into the existing decor why not. Seems like making a mountain out of a mole hill, and lets face it if having it there helps to keep the place clean and free of weeds then all the better. Last time I was there didn’t look like anyone was taking much care of it. admittedly it was right after SARS so maybe everyone was hiding…

But then if the governement the taxes it raised on useful things, instead of wasting them on grandiose projetcs like the Shanghai Maglev train and the Space program maybe they would get somewhere.

March 14, 2007 @ 5:51 pm | Comment

to ’88’:

well you have a ketchup picture, but no fries ….

I’m sure there is a tie in here somewhere …. ‘mao fries’?

March 14, 2007 @ 6:05 pm | Comment

I used to feel embressment about those stupid proposals. But now I beleve that stupidity is one of the privileges of politicians, no matter where they are.

March 15, 2007 @ 7:44 am | Comment

I waded through 71 flippin’ comments and found that no one suggested the perfect solution to this tempest in a coffee cup: rename it RED STARbucks!

March 15, 2007 @ 1:14 pm | Comment

Many starbucks coffee shops use very low-quality coffee. This kind of coffee is only for societ’s low-level people. Starbucks is not a high level brand in America.

It looks like Starbucks will be forbidden from Forbidden City.

March 16, 2007 @ 10:22 am | Comment

PETE’S it is! They could pitch their Mao’s A Mass Murdering Pedophile Blend. The masses will Love it!It’s very well balanced with little acidity.

March 16, 2007 @ 10:33 am | Comment

HX, world-renowned coffee specialist. And he’s so right. In the US, Starbucks is considered crap and no one drinks it aside from illegal aliens.

March 16, 2007 @ 11:19 am | Comment

Well that would explain why there is a Starbucks on every block in every major U.S. city — to serve the illegals that are overrunning America! And why they have foreign-sounding names for their cup sizes: “vente” and “grande” instead of “small” and “large.” Do they try that trick at the Forbidden City cafe? No wonder the Chinese are xenophobic about it! What part of FORBIDDEN do these arrogant outsiders fail to understand?!?

March 16, 2007 @ 11:34 am | Comment

Shhh…don’t piss him off maybe he knows something about Coffee Futures. Bukko, I’ve been wondering about that whole Grande, Latte, Rigatoni deal myself. This creeping Internationalism gives me the Willies.

March 16, 2007 @ 11:41 am | Comment

I had noticed the Starbucks years ago. I was disgusted. I had also noticed the KFC built right against the Great Wall (I want to say it was at badaling, but might’ve been one of the other passes)…. I was also disgusted.

I don’t feel a need to apologize for my disgust. I don’t blame foreigners for bringing these things here; I blame the Chinese for being myopic… but glad to see there’s some vision growing.

Call me xenophobic; I don’t care. I drink Starbucks and eat KFC; I just don’t want it in these symbolic locations. Just like some Americans may not want a Hooters in the Lincoln Memorial; or maybe Americans don’t care… frankly, none of my business.

I don’t really care about Freedom Fries, but I think the French have it right on one thing: cultural globalization is a double-edged sword. There are some things that I welcome with open arms, and there are some things that I reject.

March 16, 2007 @ 2:05 pm | Comment

I personally do not see a problem with starbucks there. Tourists need something to drink anyway. What surprises me is that there is no one coming up with some “royal beverage” or something. Why not take advantage of that environment?

March 16, 2007 @ 2:35 pm | Comment

I think we Westerners are just so used to this kinda thing that it seems a bit ridiculous. I suppose looking at it from a Chinese persons perspective it may be difficult to swallow. I do remember seeing Mao’s Statue almost surrounded by Mc’ds, KFC, a Pizza Hut and Popeyes, Starbucks etc… It seemed a bit odd to me. No Chinese even seemed to care. I wonder how many people cared before Yang Rui etc..started this whole deal. It seems like another diversion.

March 16, 2007 @ 3:20 pm | Comment

@CCT

A Hooter’s at the Lincoln memorial. Awesome. An idea whose time has come?

March 16, 2007 @ 10:08 pm | Comment

“Well, I WILL SAY that there is a strong current of xenophobia in America (mainly among political and religious conservatives.)”

…….and then there’s Maude.

You can say all you want, doesn’t make it so. What is the definition of a “religious conservative”? A person who really, really, really believes in God? A person who personally believes in right and wrong? I suspect it is a liberal who defines anyone that they don’t like.

March 18, 2007 @ 12:32 am | Comment

Interesting story. I enjoyed the comments as well.

March 18, 2007 @ 8:25 am | Comment

You can say all you want, doesn’t make it so.

And you can gainsay all you want, doesn’t make it untrue.

What is the definition of a “religious conservative”? A person who really, really, really believes in God? A person who personally believes in right and wrong? I suspect it is a liberal who defines anyone that they don’t like.

And who’s parsing over semantics now?

March 18, 2007 @ 5:17 pm | Comment

naussica,

Ok, I don’t want to fight. I am not great at debate. I just want to know your definition of a “religious conservative”.

March 19, 2007 @ 12:41 am | Comment

I should have been more specific. I meant fundamentalist Christians. Not that there is a causal relationship between fundamentalism and xenophobia, but the two do tend to walk hand in hand, at least from my experience.

I am neither anti-Christian nor anti-American (as any of the Duck regulars could tell you), although I am liberal. I just think it’s unfortunate that some Americans find it necessary to betray America’s cosmopolitanist past by advocating increasingly isolationist policies and becoming unreceptive, even hostile to foreigners and foreign cultures – all in the name of preserving so-called “traditional American values”.

March 19, 2007 @ 3:05 am | Comment

I am in no way trying to anger you or try your patience on this but what is a “Fundamentalist Christian”? Do you really think that the majority of those people in the US are anti-foreign? Are you sure your not lumping them together with some high profile religious “leaders”. I guess my experience is not the same as yours. I think there are people out there (in the US) who do have anti-foreign attitudes but they are ignorant and unwelcoming not “fundamentalist” Christians exclusively.

March 21, 2007 @ 12:17 pm | Comment

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