French supermarket chain Carrefour and its employees regretted over the disruption of the Beijing Olympic torch relay in Paris and fully supported the Olympics, a senior official said on Monday.
"We and all our employees feel regretful about what happened in Paris and support the Beijing Olympics 100 percent," said Gean Luc Lhuillier, Carrefour China's vice president, at a press conference in Urumqi, capital of southwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Carrefour has been accused by Chinese Internet users of supporting the Dalai Lama's group, a claim that Carrefour China denied in a statement more than a week ago.
"Carrefour is innocent, but we understand the feeling of the Chinese people," Lhuillier said, adding that Carrefour never ever did and will not do anything concerned with politics and religion.
"Carrefour behaves as the company citizen, and our job is to meet the expectation of our customers."
Carrefour has canceled its three-day sale planned for the May Day holiday on the Chinese mainland, which will cut 20 percent off its sales volume on this market during that period, said Chen Bo, the media manager of Carrefour China's headquarters in Shanghai, in a fax reply to Xinhua.
"We have canceled the week's advertising activities related to the promotion, including the print media, broadcast and circulars during the coming May Day holiday period," Chen said.
"We estimate that sales over the May Day holiday will decrease 20 percent from previous years."
Since it entered the Chinese market in 1995, Carrefour has had 112 stores on the Chinese mainland, with more than 40,000 employees.
Demonstrations at Carrefour outlets broke out on April 19 in a few Chinese cities, including Beijing, Xi'an, Hefei, Qingdao, Wuhan and Kunming. The rallies spread the next day to Jinan and Harbin.
Protesters numbered more than 1,000 in most cities and reached about 2,000 in Wuhan.
(Xinhua News Agency April 29, 2008)