Forbidden City mulls closing Starbucks

Updated: 2007-01-19 09:04

Rui, the driving force behind the Starbucks protest, is a fluent speaker of English who works for CCTV's English-language channel.

The controversy is unusual for Rui, a rising media star who spent the 2005-06 school year as a visiting fellow at Yale University. His blog says that at Yale, he gave talks to undergraduates "introducing to them the truth about the fatherland."

Other entries on his blog describe a drive in California and his meetings with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and other famous people.

The controversy was reported Thursday on CCTV's national midday news, though it failed to mention that the protests were initiated by one of the broadcaster's employees.

The report quoted an unidentified Chinese visitor as saying tourists found it odd that Starbucks was in the palace.

Seattle-based Starbucks Corp. opened its first China outlet in 1999 and has grown to 220 coffeehouses. Chairman Howard Schultz described China last year as the company's No. 1 growth market.

Last February, Starbucks gave US$1.5 million (euro1.3 million) to a Chinese teacher-training program and said it planned to make an additional US$3.5 million in charitable donations in China.

The Forbidden City was home to 24 emperors before the end of imperial rule in 1911. It is China's top tourist attraction, drawing some 7 million visitors a year.

Other businesses on its grounds include bookstores, souvenir shops and Chinese-style teahouses.

The renovation, due to last through 2020, is meant to restore the palace to its imperial-era appearance and calls for tearing down a five-story museum and other modern buildings.


Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours