Starbucks Becomes Target of Chinese State Media Bashing US Firms

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A small altercation at a Starbucks coffee shop in China has turned into a flashpoint for Chinese state-run media to bash the American enterprise.

According to a series of screenshots posted on Chinese social media Sina Weibo in the morning of Feb. 14, an employee at a Starbucks shop in the city of Chongqing asked four policemen, who were eating next to the entrance, to leave because “it affected the brand image.” The policemen allegedly objected, and called Starbucks “condescending.”

State-run People’s Daily, launched a full page article on the same day titled, “Put Down Your Arrogance Please, Starbucks,” saying Starbucks was “provocative” in “excluding” the officers from the community, and had again become a “target of the people.”

Other state media outlets and individuals jumped on the bandwagon, with some calling on people to flood the internet with low ratings and reviews of the Starbucks shop, and a few throwing eggs at the coffee shop, and others dropping off white flowers, a symbol for death in Chinese culture.

Starbucks released an official statement on Weibo, in which the company denied dismissing the officers and apologized for “miscommunication between cafe partners and local police.”

The incident prompted a lot of discussion on social media.

Some people questioned the rationale behind the story, saying it’s “illogical” for the policemen to claim to be victims of condescension when they enjoy the privilege of eating anywhere they want.

Yuanhua Li, a former professor at Capital Normal University in Beijing, considers it unusual for the CCP to mobilize so much state-run media coverage on such a minor incident.

“It’s actually a very small conflict, and the solution is also easy, as it’s nothing but merely a question of attitude between the two parties,” Li told the Epoch Times. “However, CCP state-run media outlets are stirring up the public by provoking nationalist sentiments against foreign enterprises.”

Li concluded that perhaps the CCP is doing this to redirect people’s attention away from its own misdeeds toward foreigners, as it’s confronted with sanctions and criticism from democratic countries right now.

In the context of Li’s statement, foreign businesses in China, including Tesla, Intel, Walmart, and Starbucks, have faced growing criticisms and pressures from the CCP.

In December last year, Walmart and Intel were denounced for their compliance with United States sanctions against products made in Xinjiang, with the latter being forced to apologize on Weibo.

Starbucks was also criticized by Beijing News for “selling expired food and beverages,” in the same month that Walmart and Intel were denounced.

Epoch Times reporter Kane Zhang contributed to this report.

Shawn Lin


Shawn Lin is a Chinese expatriate living in New Zealand. He has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2009, with a focus on China-related topics.

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