Guest Blogger: Chinese Netizens Call For Boycott of Carrefour

A boycott against French retail giant in China was recently waged on the Internet in the wake of the troubled Olympic Torch Relay. A message has been widely circulated on the web calling on the Chinese public to stay away from stores for 17 days, mirroring the duration of the Beijing Olympics, between May 8 and May 24.

“No one should shop at Carrefour, because the biggest shareholder of Carrefour donated huge money to the Dalai Lama, a lot of French people support the independence of Tibet, and even the French president has announced boycott of the Beijing Olympics,” says the message.

In response, Carrefour China has posted a statement on its official website, claiming that “the rumor about Carrefour Group’s support of some illegal political organizations is completely groundless.” The statement goes on to express Carrefour’s support for the Beijing Olympics. “Carrefour Group has always actively supported the Beijing Olympics,” it says. “Currently, Carrefour stores in Beijing are busy preparing to welcome the opening of the Olympics.”

The protests in Paris during the Olympic torch relay there clearly enraged many Chinese people, who have been so enthusiastic about hosting the Olympic Games. Calling the Olympic torch “the holy flame,” Chinese people see the torch relay as a sacred ritual as well. To millions of common folks in China, what happened in Paris was like a slam in their faces, anything but acceptable. Angry comments about the Paris incident have flooded online forums in China and now people are calling for action. As perhaps the best known and the most widely presented French business in China, Carrefour is an easy target.

Not everyone, however, sees a boycott of Carrefour or French products as the right thing to do. “Boycott Carrefour, such a slogan is a bit too simple and hasty,” says one post, advocating a focus on the long term. “Once we develop and become stronger, will we still be afraid of other’s bullying?”

Some Chinese netizens compare the current anti-west reaction over the torch relay interruptions with the historic conflict between China and the West after the Opium War in the 19th century, and even describe the supporters of the boycott as the “contemporary Boxers,” drawing an analogy between some activists and members of the anti-foreigner rebellion in the early 20th century.

There are also a few voices warning about the seemingly rising ignited by the Olympic flames, and expressing concern that things might go out of control on the eve of the Olympics. If so, one post says,“ [it] will cause long and unrecoverable damage to China’s international image.”

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Carrefour statement

April 16, 2008, 9:16 PM
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