An online campaign initiated by a television host to drive Starbucks out of
the Forbidden City has won the backing of more than half a million netizens, who
see the presence of the coffee chain in the heart of Beijing as an insult to Chinese culture.
Ever since Starbucks set up the outlet in 2000, it has
courted controversy; and the new debate was triggered by Rui Chenggang,
anchorman on the English channel of CCTV.
Starbuck's outlet at the Forbidden City
He wrote in his popular blog that "it is not globalizing, but trampling
Chinese culture" to have a Starbucks in the Forbidden City, a symbol of Chinese
He added that more than 300 multinational CEOs he had interviewed including Microsoft boss Bill Gates
were surprised at the commercialization of the landmark.
Rui said he met the Starbucks CEO Jim Donald at a summit in Yale University,
and suggested he relocate the outlet.
However, Donald said the decision was made by his predecessor; and that the
chain was invited by the Forbidden City to open an outlet.
Rui said he plans to write another letter to Donald, telling him that the
company's withdrawal would win more respect from, and more patronage of,
His blog attracted 530,000 hits and comments have flooded the Web. Many
called the outlet a "disgrace" and the Palace Museum, the administrative organ
of the Forbidden City, a "slave of money".
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