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Chinese netizen discussion of"boycott on French goods"
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13:38, April 15, 2008

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Recently, many Chinese netizens at home and abroad have initiated a boycott on French goods. But there are also Internet users who question the approach and effects of this action.

If one were to, right now, type in these four Chinese characters in a Chinese search engine, "抵制法国," (which mean "boycott France") one could easily find headlines like this: "From now on, do not buy a Peugeot, do not wear French perfume, do not eat French food;" "Rise up, take off your LV;" "Mobilization order - boycott Carrefour in China on May 1." Since April 9, a number of Chinese netizens at home and abroad have been campaigning to "boycott French goods" in response to the Beijing Olympic Games Torch Relay's unpleasant meeting with "Tibet independence" in Paris two days ago, and to the French government's unfriendly attitude.

Overseas Chinese lead the way

Over the past few days, such posts for "a boycott on French goods" not only appeared in the BBS of "Tianya", "Xici", "Mop", Sohu and other popular Chinese communities; but also in many well-known overseas Chinese forums. One is the "York BBS (yorkbbs.ca)." In this Chinese Forum in Toronto, a post titled "Please boycott French goods as much as you can" has the highest click rate. The author not only uploaded various initiatives calling for a "boycott on French goods," but also followed it with a long list of French brands. Among the listed, the L'Oreal Group, LVMH, and the Paris Department Store Group are under strong "recommendation." Take LVMH as an example: more than 50 brand names are listed, covering a wide range of products including skin care, makeup, perfume, fashion, watches and clocks, jewelry and alcohol. In another post, the author listed alternative products for these French-made brands.

Along with the "York BBS," another well-known BBS in North America's "North American Chinese e-net," holds the same hot discussion. "We should protest against Paris's unreasonable attitude towards the Olympic torch relay; and call on all the people to abstain from all LV, LVMH and other French products." The author of the article wrote: "Although the final result is still unknown; since more people are raising this issue, they should feel more pressure." There are also people who have expressed their dissatisfaction through action. A netizen named "concord" just returned a LV tote and said in her post: "I've been fascinated with this tote for quite a long time. But once I learned of the things that happened in Paris, I felt the tote is unpleasant to look at. I will never allow these FRENCH JERKs to get my money. They are so narrow-minded!" "Before you buy various brands from France, please take a moment to think about what the French have done to us!" In the BBS of Powerapple, a netizen wrote: "What can we do? A French handbag or China's dignity? French cosmetics or China's reputation? At this time, as a Chinese person, how should you choose...Allow them to split up our country and insult our people?"

Anger by no means accidental

The fury from the Internet users is by no means unsubstantiated. On April 7, when the Beijing Olympic torch arrived in Paris, "‘Tibet Independence' extremists, in brutal violence, attempted to snatch the torch from China's disabled athlete Jin Jing, who was sitting in a wheelchair. After failing to do so, they tried to disrupt the torch relay team by any appalling means; curse the patriotic students; and tear up the five-star red flag!" wrote Sanny Zhao in her angry letter. What is more, the French media took on an even worse attitude. Mainstream media such as "Le Figaro" and "Libération," to everyone's surprise, published "Torch defeat in Paris" and "A slap in the face to China," and simply rejoiced in the calamity. Consequently, Sanny Zhao continued in her letter: "The Chinese nation has never been so united. On May 1st, let's empty all the Carrefours in China! Please help re-publish this post as much as you can, so that more people can read it. Thank you!" Sure enough, such an appeal has received echoes from many bbs and forums across the country. A netizen responded later: "I just got rid of two Carrefour shopping cards. I won't go there anymore."

Voices calling for calm response

As the largest shareholder of Carrefour, LVMH has become a focus of attention. In fact, China's consumers make up the largest consumer group of this international top supplier's luxury goods. Whenever new products are introduced into the LV store on the 5 George Avenue in Paris, Chinese people make up the majority in line in front of the store. "Just imagine if Chinese people no longer show up in LV stores – would it still be popular?" A netizen named panpanya said, "Luxuries are not necessities. Why not just save some money? Forget about the old ones, since you've bought them already. But don't buy new ones anymore!"

However, on the afternoon of April 12, reporters from the"International Herald Tribune" visited LV stores on Beijing's Financial Street and the World Trade Center. They discovered that although there were not many clients in the two stores; employees said that total sales remained unaffected for the past two days. They said they were "not very clear" about the boycott. On the first floor of the Grand Pacific Mall in Beijing, Dior beauty assistants (a LVMH's brand) said that customer volume remained the same and they had no idea about the boycott.

On the Internet, some people believe that one should be weary of the "boycott." "I think enhancing the strength of our country, as opposed to this kind of boycott, is more meaningful," said a netizen. In the Sohu Community, a netizen called "Courageous Jianbu Xia" said: "How many French goods are there in China? They are limited! China and France should continue to maintain smooth exchanges and communication, so that it will not allow some people to heed and trust only one side!" "Sadayasu" said: "I love LV! I cannot boycott it. At least I own a lot of LVs. We used to boycott Japanese and US products. But look what happened? It's too rash!"

By People's Daily Online

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