nocarrefoursms.jpgHot off the extremely reliable mobile SMS chain comes news that Carrefour and the French government have banned together to concoct a special May Holiday sale to lure Chinese customers away from their boycott.

And not just that, French TV is hoping to catch it all for the 6-o’clock news, presumably to put the French people’s minds at rest, and hearts at ease, that their largest shopping chain in China isn’t going unattended.

The French government has prepared 20 mil and Carrefour has prepared 5 mil to use for a May Holiday sale. The owner of Carrefour is very arrogant, believing Chinese people during May Holiday will buy excessively at Carrefour.

French television is also actively making preparations to capture Chinese people madly shopping at Carrefour, showing Chinese people punching their own mouth [being hypocritical]. If you are a Chinese person who loves your country send this message to your relatives and friends, don’t go shopping at Carrefour, don’t gain a little advantage while losing your respect and national ambition, and allow foreigners to laugh at you. We’ll never let foreigners look at us as the “Sick Man of Asia” again.

Our individual efforts maybe mean nothing, but if everyone unites, we can show foreigners our power. If you are a Chinese person of concience, you’ll send this message to 100 friends, if you are a Chinese person who loves your country, send this message to 20 friends.

The news the media (legions of French reporters hiding in behind the milk powder isle) are trying to capture isn’t that the Chinese are a bunch of Carrefour-shopping hypocrites. The news is how easily the country is stirred into a nationalistic frenzy based on relatively trivial – or completely false – things.

Rumours, the lot:

The reasoning behind all the animosity towards French products in China comes from two main sources, both of which have been muddied into an unrecognizable mess of anti-truths all the better suited for punchy SMS messages:

1. The president of Carrefour routinely gives money to the Dalai Lama.
This is completely out of whack. The boycott messages aren’t speaking about José Luis Duran, they are talking about Bernard Arnault – a wealthy French entrepreneur who is also chairman and chief executive of luxury goods group LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Hennessy and Fendi). Him, along with Colony Capital own only a 10.7% share in Carrefour. On a stretch that 10% may be cause for some Chinese to consider alternative shopping plans, IF Arnault hadn’t categorically refuted allegations that he backed the Dalai Lama in any way. With his company poised to grab the billions of dollars in imports to China, why would he?

2. The French government supports an independent [*tib*].
The original call for boycott reads as follows:

The Olympic torch relay that just ended in Paris is not as peaceful as most of Chinese know about. Let’s see what French and its government have done when Chinese carried the torch, a symbol of peace and friendship into their territory.

  1. Before the relay, a French TV station called on people to protest on street for the reason that they “don’t want Chinese flags flaunting all over”.
    ** Likely. Protesters are known for canceling plans on short notice just to stop an over abundance of Chinese flags. Happens all the time.
  2. The torch was forced to extinguish for 4 times under the violent disruptions of [*tib*] separatists.
    ** China should be asking itself why that happened.
  3. The French police in charge of security simply stood by to see the separatists snatching the torch, and striking the disabled torch carrier.
    ** Jin Jing (the disabled torch carrier) wasn’t struck – a protester simply tried to grab the torch from her. The fact that she’s gone on to say she still doesn’t understand “why” they were grabbing it says a lot about the education system in China, and possibly explains the power these SMS memes have.
  4. At where the torch went by, hordes of French waved the flag of separatists, clamoring “Free [*tib*]”, “Shame on China” to protest against China.
    ** Such is everyone’s right in ‘free’ nations
  5. Groups of young men even scrambled the Chinese students’ Five-star flags and tore them up, two sides in conflict.
    ** Sounds hollow. Truly doubtful they were French though, as it seems extreme for a French national who just happens to support a free [*tib*] to go about roughing up Chinese and tearing apart their flags. If it were Chinese nationals however, I might believe it. Either way, little to do with Carrefour.
  6. When the sacred fire passed by the City Hall of Paris, the banners and slogans of pro-[*tib*] independence were hung out and all the alderman put on the pro-separatism badges, a behavior that made the planned ceremony there canceled.
    ** Wrong again. The ceremony was canceled because a banner hung outside city hall that read ‘Paris defends human rights everywhere in the world‘. Not exactly a pro-[*tib*] statement, just a show of support for human rights and a reminder that some countries are historically lax about them. Hardly something anyone should boycott about.
  7. The major media in France reviewed the torch relay with such headlines— Fiasco in Paris(Figaro) and A Slap on China.
    ** I think that’s a pretty fair assessment, but nothing compared to the fiasco in China now.

So, explain to me again, why should I boycott Carrefour? And if I were Chinese, what would happen to me if I refuse?


  1. Nothing a few kuai off cooking oil wont fix!

    you make a good point. Should I recommend my gf and friends avoid Carrefour for fear of being labelled a race traitor?

    None the less, supermarket shopping has been quite pleasant lately, completed in record time!

  2. I don’t believe that a boycott of Carrefour will be successful because the store attracts a very wide cross-section of Chinese… unlike, say, the narrow demographic that buys Japanese cameras and mp3 players.

    And like Nick says, if Chinese people are willing to kill each other over a few kuai on cooking oil, will they really be able to resist a May 1 sale if it happens? Dunno.

  3. 1.Before the relay, a French TV station called on people to protest on street for the reason that they “don’t want Chinese flags flaunting all over”.
    **please check the original French report
    2. The torch was forced to extinguish for 4 times under the violent disruptions of separatists.
    **definitely the Chinese government should ask themself, but what do you think the separatists? well organised, some well paid.
    3. ..
    **the anger is first coming out from the oversea Chinese and educated in the west
    4. ..
    ** sure it is normal in a free country
    5. ..
    6. ..
    ** please check the TV channel in France, you will know the situation there. Human rights? the human rights in China definitely far far from good, cheap labours, blood industry, corruption, bureaucratism, but if you know the change in 30 years in China, you may change your thought. What is human right, is it something more important than most people in China do not worry about hunger? is it something more important that Chinese people now have their own dreams, and dreams come true day by day? Is it something more important that people change their bicycles into cars?
    If you or your parents didn’t experience the time of poverty, struggle to live, you will never understand what is human rights to most Chinese people.
    7. ..
    ** it is a fair assessment, but what a normal Chinese will think about it? we are carrying olympic torch to France, Olympics belong to the world, not China, why a national media laugh at it in that way?

    No comments on boycotting Carrefour, I think Carrefour(a symbol of France) is chosen to show Chinese people’s anger, it is a victim, but I don’t think it will last too long, just a way to show France. If you see how many French enjoying that day, I saw the TV, how to say, they are really exciting,but I could not stop tearing, I guess rare of them know where is Tibet.

    Btw, anybody knows that actually some(lots of, but much less than the want to boycott) people also come out to summon it is not right to boycott Carrefour?

    Remember the dramatic historic period, another 30 years, you will know what are real human rights for most Chinese people.

  4. I’ve spent the last four days saying exactly the same thing to many Chinese friends, co-workers, and former students, and it doesn’t seem to be working very well. Some Chinese, especially cosmopolitan-minded bloggers were already on the anti-boycott side, but I’ve not met anyone who will switch sides when confronted with evidence — they only become a little less extreme. For example, my former students were eager to post the passage you above in QQ chat and through email and SMS, but even they were taken aback when I mentioned the French flag being burned in Qingdao.

    The most frustrating thing when talking to the “other side” is the flood of nationalist cliches that rushes forth. For instance, some refer to foreign critics as the “Eight Allied Armies” and “enemies of the Olympics.” We can see a bit of this reflected in the “Sick Man of Asia” -talk, as if the intention of foreign critics is to invade and occupy China. France, in particular, gets no credit for its role in nurturing and supporting modern China. Chinese have seemingly forgotten that Deng and Zhou are as much a product of French revolutionary thought as Chinese and that throughout the Cold War, France was the among the most Sinophilic of Western countries.

    (As a crazy right-wing American I’m tempted to say to the French “told you so,” but now is not the time for Francophobia.)

  5. This is how many chinese is thinking now: we have treated french people as friends and we have done nothing bad to them, why they hate us so much as reflected in the late events in Paris?To boycott goods is obvious not the wise way, but it is the easiest way to show their sentiment. Moreover, many western people have very different opinions towards Tibet. In their mind, Dalai Lama is an hero for both freedom and peace. But in china, Dalai is only somebody who want to separate china. In china people may not have adequente freedom as those in western countries, but in china both tibetan chinese and other chinese share the same degree of freedom. Sometimes tibetan chinese even have more freedom than common chinese. For example, while most chinese family can have only one baby, the tibetan families can have as many as they can. So chinese people never think tibet is a problem of human right, but a problem of separation movement. Lack of misunderstanding is the basic reason that triger the anger between french people and chinese people. If we wanna live on this planet peacefully, we shall try our best to understand each other, right?

  6. Want to boycott the French? The Chinese netizen should get the Areva nuclear contracts rescinded. I am sure Westinghouse could use some extra jobs in America. Even better, link the contract to the appearence of french president at the Olympic opening ceremony. Show them that moral grandstanding comes with a price, especially for second-tier political power like France.

  7. When has truth and facts had anything to do with how Chinese decide ? Even when friendly warning to Chinese of dangers ahead are viewed as hatred by CHinese, it is time to leave them alone, and enjoy the view.

  8. Your so called “truth and facts” are only educated “truth and facts” by western medias, yet you don’t know some basic facts about Tibet. For instance, many western (not all) people didn’t know Dalai Lama was the largest slave owner in Tibet before 1959. Chinese people really don’t want you to help them in a way that USA help Iraq. BTW, who of you have really take it seriously to help a foreign country? I don’t think so. On this planet people only care about themselves.Rome was not built in one day. So you can not expect china can do everything according to western standards. China may have quite a lot of human right problems, but at present the human right situatio in china is the best over last 100 years. China has changed a lot during the past 30 years. If China can have 20 years more peaceful period to develop, there would be a huge change for chinese people.
    But the reality is that china will always not have a peaceful environment. For example, it may be disturbed by the present Tibet event, which is totally unexpeted to chinese people. In fact, that’s not a bad thing. I would rather consider it as a examiniation or a training for chinese and chinese government to cope with such challenges. Through this practice, china will eventually get improved.

  9. Got that same text in a QQ message yesterday.

    Well over 1000 people were outside Carrefour Dalian today. I can’t imagine anyone daring to move past them and go inside. They’d be ripped to pieces.

    I feel bad for the CF employees.

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  11. as a chinese living in the UK,I am really worried about the Tibet event and I noticed that chinese people here in UK are getting more and more violent attack on street,and everyday I was reading every deffirent news about China about mugabe about tibet,its really seems the whole world against China for everything China did,you can say the western media are telling the truth,but you never think of that when people watching this kinda news,the first thing going into their head is they hate chinese,so they put all their angers on innocent chinese people who living arround them,assulting them and attack them.the results after that are all chinese stand up to protect themselves,to against western media.
    look,I am a anti-goverment person,I hate my goverment,I hope chinese people have the freedom and humen right,so do my other chinese friends,I think the western world are trying to help us,but the results are totalling against my thought,the CNN keep saying chinese blablabla,the german media saying chinese blablabla,and the BBC went to zenbabuwe filming local people shouting:”we dont like the chinese,we want them go back where they belong”,some famours reporter saying” the chinese are thugs”
    well,its seems like personal attack to me,indeed,I think its more like racist attack,the media seems not argue with the humen rights at all,but looks more like anti all chinese race.
    look,lots chinese I know of were actuelly stand in the side of western media,we are seeking help to divelop china’s humen rights and we want a free china,but we are very disspointed by the western media now as them are not stand by the side of innocent chinese people to against the chinese goverment policy,they are telling lies as well as the chinese goverment cantroled media,I was a big fun of BBC,but now I am not,I think all the media lies about something,just some are little lier,some are big lier,and people are just being controled by them as toys,now I even want to trust my own media in china rather than the media in UK,but then again,you can believe what ever you want to believe,this is a free world.
    only thing I need to say here: the only way to make china change to free country is show your helping hands to chinese people and show some respect to the people,then I am sure you will earn the trust and lets work together to make china become a free china
    please forgive me my terrible english

  12. naive…For politicians in western countries whether china is free or not is not important. The most important thing is that china must be weak enought not to challenge the present international community controlled by a group of western gansters, which is almost the same as 100 years ago. In the eyes of many western people, Japan may be a good student. But do you know how the western politicians hate japanese things 30 years ago when they were talking about japan rise?
    But you shouldnot hate western politicians just bcoz of this. They are human beiings, and human beings are selfish in nature. When they run for elections, they have promised to maximize the benifits of citizens in their own contries. They are not elected to work for the benifits of China.
    If you are a chinese and know chinese history well, you shall know that china at present is still quite weak. As a weak country, china shall expect and endure a lot of insults. It is useless to complain how life is unfair. The only solution is that chinese shall work hard such that china can really rise again.
    I think they are many things for chinese poeple to think. Why china with a population of 1.4billion cannot make planes as France with only a poplulation of less than 0.1 billion? Why people in UK seldom need to work overtime yet they can still get high-paid salary? If all chinese can seriously consider such questions, the day of china rise will be very soon. Otherwise, china will only be a place to make shoes and cloths for western countries, yet have to endure a lot insults from them.

  13. jake well speak!
    I think there are lot of reasons make China still a weak country,ofcourse I would love to see China rise,but I am confused coz I dont know what we should do to change the way we are.

  14. A country doesn’t have to be “powerful” to not be weak. If what is meant by “weakness” is in the sense of health, not in the sense of “non-powerful”, then I agree China is weak and China should “rise”.

    From what I’ve seen, China often compares and contrasts itself to the US (or to a smaller extent the UK), and this inevitably leads to comparing weakness to power (= military).

    If this is the case, I feel China will always be following. Just as the US did to England. England did to Spain. Etc.

    If China wants to not be weak, they should look to nations that have the highest quality of life, the best social systems, the cleanest environment and the most peaceful/stable existence. That, in my opinion, makes a country “strong”.

  15. Ryan,
    Yeah, I never did understand the whole “qiangda” thing either. I told somebody that GDP per capita in Luxembourg is over 60,000 dollars, and yet it’s tiny. I’ll take a high standard of living over “powerful” anyday.

  16. tibet is part of china and it should never be independent. tibet is just like any part of france. if one part of france is asked by the foreigners to be independent, what would french feel? this is totall chinese business and westerners are just mislead by dalai. the poor westerners are just tools to dalai to be against china. and westerners use dalai’s excuse to express their real purpose that they do not want china to be strong. all they want to see is just a weak and poor china which have to do exactaly what is best for the westerners. however. chinese will never give in. if westerners are so believed in what dalai has said about tibet. why do not you come to tibet yourself to witness whether it’s true or not?

  17. This is how many France should be thinking now: we have treated frence people as friends and we have done nothing bad to you, why they hate us so much as reflected in the late events in Peking?To boycott goods is obvious the wise way, it is the easiest way to show our sentiment. Moreover, many western people have the wrong opinions towards Tibet. In their mind, Dalai Lama is an hero for both freedom and peace. But in china, Dalai doed be the bad man who want to separate china. In china people may have adequente freedom as those in western countries, in china both tibetan chinese and other chinese share the same degree of freedom. Sometimes tibetan chinese even have more freedom than common chinese. For example, while most chinese family can have only one baby, the tibetan families can have as many as they can. Lack of misunderstanding is the basic reason for western . If we wanna live on this planet peacefully, we shall try our best to understand each other, right?

  18. So, were the flood of commenters on this post on Wednesday real Chinese using websites to translate bad ideas into Chinglish, or foreigners pretending to be Chinese and writing comments that look like machine-translated English?

  19. Ryan: i agree with u on the intepretation of being strong. China is still far away from this criterion. Military power may be neccessary, but it will not make people happy. It is at most a way to protect peace and happiness. Not a country can last long if it loves war.

  20. @Matthew: There was a string of garbage from Walter. Generally it is not my policy to erase comments I “feel” are garbage as I want everyone to feel they can voice their opinion here (which is why I left his craptastically mundane straight-from-the-book comment above).

    However, he then proceeded to spam the comments (4-5 messages in a row). I’ve 0 tolerance for such behavior.

    I need to come up with a solid comment policy.

  21. Caroline,

    I am afraid you are promoting an old-fashioned and divisive view of the blue planet.

    Please bear in mind a) that there is no such thing as “westerners”, but rather billions of humans on the planet with many different ideas and original beliefs etc, b) that the Dalai Lama is not asking for independence, but for some degree of regional autonomy, c) that Corsica is part of France because the majority of people in Corsica prefer it that way and democratically voted so, d) and that the other humans on the planet are not “against China”, but wish its government would allow the other humans who happen to leave in China to enjoy more tolerance of minorities and more liberty of expression.

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  23. @ppmartin
    a)”Corsica is part of France because the majority of people in Corsica prefer it that way and democratically voted so” — maybe you are right, but my question is if most people living there voting for independence, will the France government agree? Will the British government let the Northern Ireland or Scotland be independent?The problem is there is not a common rule for this ethical problem. There are more than 2000 different ethical groups on the world, how many countries we have?
    b)I agree some Chinese mixed the Chinese people and the Chinese government, but apparently not only Chinese have this problem.
    c)about Tibet issues, minorities should be fully respected, this government need lots to be improved, but the problem is when the people or the media critisizes Chinese government, at least learn some history and being equal, no body reported the policy for minorities in China, is anybody know, if a minority Chinese married a han Chinese, normally the family will let the kid will follow the minority nation, because there are more benefits for a minority in China.(for example, no one child policy for minority, easier to go to university, even when there is crime, etc).
    d)one party policy have lots of problems, but democracy need time to improve, a stable nation is most important and good for all Chinese, reform is better than revolution at least at my point of view, and life is getting better day by day in China, but why so many people in Europe see this Chinese government like a evil demon. Last time when my colleague got drunk, he was keeping asking me, what a evil government you have, why you Chinese guys do not launch a revolution. Even he agreed that after that the whole nation will be separated.
    We are all human beings living on this planet, fighting in the name of religion, territory, freedom, etc. Two nations could be friends when they have the same enemies.

  24. Seriously, people. If you really want a people to believe that you are trying to help them and not bring them down, at least *try* to look at reasons other than “they are brainwashed” of why they aren’t buying it.

  25. Sorry to double post, but I thought I should specify what I meant. Talks here about Tibet is almost always coupled with complains about defective imports from China, jobs lost to China, or even Chinese spies. How can anyone really believe that this is about people under the CCP rule’s human rights and not about competition?

    When had ethic Chinese outside China ever really been this unified toward backing the CCP? With your knowledge, do you really think people inside the country actually still never question the government?

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