When a tourist from Beijing accompanied a Chinese friend to the Forbidden City, they were not allowed to enter two shops in the Forbidden City. The shops claimed they only welcomed foreign tourists, not Chinese ones. Given that all shops aim to promote themselves to bring in more customers, why did this happen?
These two shops are located east of Shenwu Gate and next to the Zhenfei Well respectively. After been repeatedly asked to reveal identity, the journalist finally entered into the shops by saying he was looking for his foreign friends.
The shops sell the "four treasures of the study": writing brushes, ink sticks, ink slabs and paper. They also sell jewelry, paintings and other art works at very high prices. A paper fan is about 200 yuan, while a jade bracelet is several thousand yuan, almost 10 times higher than products in other shops.
The reason these shops refuse entry to Chinese people is because they think they know the real price, so a savvy Chinese shopper might bargain too much and spoil the deal. These shops are connected with travel agents, who earn commissions from the shops too.
The service center of the Forbidden City have asked these two shops to open to all customers and will continue further investigation.
A lawyer surnamed Han at the Beijing Yuecheng law office said the two shops have violated related regulations involving the protection of the rights and interests of consumers. They discriminate against both Chinese and foreigners, by barring entry to Chinese people and cheating foreigners with their high prices.
(CRI.com August 23, 2006)