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I am a student at New York University and I just finished reading an article at about peoples' reactions to the Starbucks in the Forbidden City.

I agree that having a symbol of Western culture in a place so ancient and revered is offensive to people. It would be like having a McDonald's inside our Lincoln Memorial. I do agree that it should be removed. I also wanted to comment briefly on American culture, or the way it seems it is perceived in China. I have been living in New York City for a year and a half now and I believe that many times Chinese people (especially the younger generations) misinterpret what American culture is.

In New York there is not one Walmart. We have many small shops people can go to offering different goods and services, but large chain stored like Walmart, McDonald's, Starbucks, and so forth do not do well in New York. Americans really prefer going to a place owned by a small businessman because there is a sense that the owner of the store is grateful for the business and the customer feels he/she gets better treatment at a small shop. What I hope the younger generations of China try to understand is that being American isn't about owning Nike shoes and Levi's jeans; these are just things. Please look at older examples of American culture to try and gain a better understanding of our people.

Try listening to Jazz music (if it is available) or watching old movies like Casablanca or Citizen Kane. These are some of the things that represent what Americans are about, or what we can do. I don't really know how much big American business has permeated different aspects of your society, but from what I am seeing and how the Chinese people are responding does not leave me with a good feeling. Please don't view big American business as a representation of who the American people are. I am looking forward to visiting your country this summer.

Brian Mattys, NYC

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