North Americans are accustomed to seeing Starbucks — pretty much everywhere. Sometimes on more than one street corner. It might not surprise a North American, therefore, to find a Starbucks in the middle of the Forbidden City, in the heart of Beijing.
While you ponder the incredible history around you, you can also enjoy an double almond no-foam latte.
Well, it may not last for long.
In a move that demonstrates the power of blogging in China — particularly amongst the media elite — Starbucks may face eviction out of this plum lease, as a popular media host has, on his blog, has delivered some sharp criticism of the coffee chain as it stands in this historical landmark.
The International Herald Tribune reports that he had written that:
The outlet is “a symbol of low-end U.S. food culture” and “an insult to Chinese civilization,” Rui Chenggang, an anchor at state broadcaster China Central Television, wrote on his personal Web log. The blog has attracted over 540,000 hits and thousands of responses in Internet chat rooms since last Friday.
To be fair, Starbucks is not the only multinational corporation with its logos gracing these Imperial halls; according to the article, American Express has its logos “under every sign board that provides descriptions of the palace’s halls.”
While it took a (rather famous) blogger to initiate the conversation, I think its one that the West has been grappling with for sometime — the invasion of our spaces, sometimes our special public places, with advertising and commercialized messages.