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Starbucks, The Forbidden City, and so forth


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  • 2 months later...

This is just a post to get something off of my chest.

I just came back from a visit to Beijing and once again I was harassed at every cultural/historical site by hawkers.

I was quite annoyed upon reading this story:


"A campaign for its closure began building early this year, when a television anchor complained that the U.S. chain's presence at the symbolic heart of the Chinese nation was trampling on Chinese culture. It finally closed in July."

Never once have I been harassed to go drink coffee at starbucks. However I've been harassed by coffee shops around the forbidden city and the great wall.

I'm sick and tired of people harassing me to buy things at these traditional/historical/cultural sites. I am here to see the scenery, experience history and culture; not to buy over-priced Mao Zedong t-shirts, pirated DVDs, etc.

What's up with the huge olympics sign they strategically placed near Badaling Great Wall? Did they purposely do that to destroy the beautiful site?

Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of Starbucks, but it's unfair to pick on them, while hawkers leech off of foreigners trying to enjoy the Great Wall, Forbidden City, etc. Let them set up shop outside the forbidden city and great wall, not inside!

Is this what Chinese culture is about? I think not, most Chinese I've asked are embarassed that this is going on. This poor management of cultural sites is destroying their cultural significance.

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I say good riddance to starbucks. their coffee tastes awful.
Is it really good riddance? I mean it's just been replaced by a chinese owned coffee chain. 6 of one, half a dozen of the other, really.

Actually, IMO, a far worse crime than having a coffee shop in the Forbidden City, is the current lot of renovations which make the FC look like it was built yesterday :roll: Perhaps they're hoping that come 2008 it will have deteriorated enough to make it look old again.

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i wonder if the Chinese actually care a lot less than most foreigners do on this issue. when i see a maccas (macdonalds) at the base of the drum tower in xi'an it reminds me of the US, australia and every other western country i've seen it in. so i just think it doesn't fit in at the drum tower and can't help but be disappointed by seeing it there (then i go in and buy a burger). But for most chinese, they would have first seen maccas in china and would have first seen starbucks in china so i dont think theyd get that feeling of 'what is this weird foreign thing doing here'. afterall i don't see a starbucks here in australia and think "U.S.A". ive whinged about maccas being at some pretty historic sites in china and most responses i get from my chinese friends are very much along the lines of 'whatever....'.

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Interesting argument. But how would you feel if you saw a McDonald's at the base of Ayer's Rock? I for my part have seen quite a few McDonald's back in Germany where I was thoroughly disappointed with their placement. (Although to be fair, I also saw a few that blended in somewhat better - as well as shrill red and yellow can blend in, I guess...)

I think it is not so much about McDonald's, Starbucks or other icons, as about a different sense of preservation.

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In my opinion it's just a stupid thing that the local media picked up on, as they can't actually debate anything at all useful or really relevant to people's lives.

If one believes that drinking tea or coffee is all part of the "this is how the emperors lived" experience then get rid of the Starbucks. This presumes that the emperors were happy to buy crap souvenirs and eat instant noodles as they walked from room to room.

If one believes that having a coffee is not really related to the experience of seeing the Forbidden City (this is where I stand on this, can you tell?) then why not have a Starbucks. As for the quality of their coffee .. I doubt another chain in Beijing is going to give a better espresso experience in such an environment.

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