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Coke plant in Urumqi briefly affected by riot
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08:55, July 15, 2009

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Urumqi Riot

The deadly July 5 riots in northwest China cost soft drink giant Coca-Cola's new joint venture bottling plant in Xinjiang about 8 million yuan in sales over the last week, said the plant's general manager on Tuesday.

The COFCO Coca-Cola Beverage (Xinjiang) Co., Ltd., which employs about 400 people, suspended production for the day on July8, but has resumed normal operations.

"Undoubtedly, the July 5 riot had short-lived impact on our business," Chen Hongbing, general manager of the plant, told Xinhua Thursday in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

"Since the riot, fewer tourists are visiting Xinjiang and fewer people in Urumqi are coming out at night," he explained.

Chen said many stores in downtown areas of Urumqi were closed during the past week and tourists, who were usually reliable consumers, had cancelled trips to Xinjiang, resulting in the decline in sales during the peak summer sales season.

Chen estimated the company's sales had dropped by 8 million yuan (1.17 million U.S. dollars) during the week after the June 5 riot left at least 184 people dead and 1,680 injured in the city.

The company can produce 200,000 tonnes of beverages annually from the factory that covers about 13 hectares in the Urumqi Economic and Technological District.

The bottling plant, opened by Coca-Cola, China National Cereals ,Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corp. (COFCO) and Xinjiang Youhao Group last month, supplies all Coca-Cola's plastic bottled products to cities and scenic spots in the autonomous region.

"Coca-Cola still has a very optimistic outlook on Xinjiang's economy and consumer potential in the long term," Chen said. "Xinjiang's economy has been growing at a faster pace than the national average level and the local government has offered a lot of help and services to us."

"Importantly, the Chinese government responded quickly to restore order after the riot," he said. "We have seen similar responses during the Sichuan earthquake-relief period and the Olympic Games last year."

"Therefore, the riot won't have any impact on our long-term marketing and investment here," Chen added.

He said the bottling plant, one of Coca-Cola's 38 bottling facilities on the Chinese mainland, would introduce new Coca-Cola products this year.

Coca-Cola holds a 35-percent stake in the plant.


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