Thousands of Chinese netizens have backed a campaign by a China Central Television (CCTV) anchorman to banish an outlet of American coffee giant Starbucks from the Forbidden City, more than six years after it first opened.
Rui Chenggang wrote in his popular blog that the coffee shop should be removed from one of China's most acclaimed heritage sites. His suggestion was backed by thousands of readers, who agreed that the coffee house was having a "damaging effect on China's heritage".
A netizen going by the name "wu83726bbc" wrote, "A Starbucks in the Forbidden City is a disgrace to Chinese culture." He also accused the museum administration of being slaves to money.
Another netizen named "Liushuirenjia" called for media campaigns to arouse the attention of officials who had the power to decide the chain store's fate.
However, Wei Yingjie, an editor and columnist from Hangzhou, said in a comment piece in Tuesday's Beijing News that Starbucks in Forbidden City was not "trampling on Chinese culture". Wei describes its existence as "a dialogue between Capitalism ideology and traditional Chinese culture, which is common in today's China".
Jim Donald, CEO of Starbucks, said Starbucks was invited by museum officials to open a store six years ago, and "has made serious efforts to fit within the environment of the Forbidden City", according to a correspondence with Rui, published by the blogger.
The museum authorities, however, refused to comment.
In 2000, Starbucks removed its eye-catching white-black-and-green logo from the Forbidden City outlet in response to visitors' protests.
In 2002, American fast food Kentucky Fried Chicken was removed from Beihai Park, north of the Forbidden City, after representatives to the local political advisory body raised objections.
(Xinhua News Agency January 17, 2007)