Friday, January 19, 2007

Forbidden City Vs. Starbucks

Beijing’s Forbidden City has 800 buildings for a total of 8,886 rooms, a smartly named portal known as the Gate of Divine Might, 5 centuries of history, and one Starbucks.

Some are calling for the Starbucks to go. I have to agree with them. For the purpose of full disclosure, I don’t drink coffee. It keeps you awake, sure, but it also stunts your growth (at 28 I’m holding out for that one last growth burst – look out NBA!). And if there is one thing the Chinese people don’t need, it is their growth being stunted. Another thing they don’t need is a symbol of the triumphs of global capitalism staked right through the heart of a historical landmark.

The movement, if you can call such things a movement, all started with a Chinese reporter’s blog.

"There is no Starbucks in Louvre in France or Buckingham Palace in Britain - because there is no such thing as "for rent". If we now blame solely Starbucks for its presence in the Forbidden City, it seems to me rather unfair. After all, Starbucks did not take the land by force. They comply with the regulations. They pay rent. They signed contract."

And before you go thinking that this is a silly little bit o’ tid, look at what the China Consumer Journal has to say (as read on CNN):

"This is no different from slapping China's 1.2 billion people and 5,000-year traditional culture in the face. Some people's anger is no different from their feelings when our embassy was bombed."

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