The era of globalization forbids any brutal violence in the commercial circle such as that which took place in China's Wenzhou Shoe Town in Elche, Southeast Spain.
On September 16, a gang of Spaniards who were part of 500 demonstrators in the Carrus industrial zone in Elche, which serves as the capital of the country's footware industry, set fire to Chinese-owned warehouses under the slogan "Chinese out."
The arson, the first serious case of violence against Chinese business people in Spain, caused US$984,000 worth of direct economic losses to the Chinese owners as well as inestimable psychological trauma.
Nothing can justify this brutal treatment of Chinese business people who came to Spain, a commercialized and market-developed country, to do business in accordance with market rules.
Famous for their good quality and reasonable prices, Chinese shoes in Elche and other parts of Spain cater to a wide range of child to adult styles, and have become increasingly popular in recent years to Spanish consumers, especially to middle and lower-income people.
This is why the number of Chinese shoeshops has rapidly risen in Elche.
The rising demand has not only boosted Chinese businesses, but also satisfied Spanish consumers because of the convenience and reasonable price.
The boom of Wenzhou Shoe Town is a product of economic globalization and liberalization.
When the arsonists set fire to the shoeshops, globalization and market principles honored by most of the world's businesses went up in flames along with the shoes.
The incident was indeed a tragedy for Sino-Spanish relations and will undoubtedly have a negative impact on bilateral economic ties.
The shoe dealers must be compensated.
A call for action to guarantee the safety and property of Chinese people in Spain is reasonable.
In a meeting with Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Shen Guofang on Thursday, Spanish Ambassador to China Jose Pedro Sebastian de Erice condemned the violence and said the Spanish government had promised to protect the integrity of Chinese nationals in Spain and to prevent anything like this happening again.
These pledges did not stop the reactions of yet more locals.
That night, Spanish shoeshop owners held another large-scale demonstration in Elche, demanding the government adopt measures to restrict the import of foreign shoes and protect the local shoe industry. They also threatened to continue holding weekly demonstrations if no action was taken.
These incidents have been caused by what the local businessmen say is the harm done to their businesses by the Chinese competitors.
Instead of taking action in such a primitive way they should look at how they could improve their own businesses in order to compete fairly and legally.
The incidents have also given the Chinese shoeshop owners food for thought about what changes they should be making when operating in Europe.
(China Daily September 30, 2004)