No Starbucks

A traditional Chinese cafe has opened in the Forbidden City where a Starbucks had been. The Starbucks was forced to close from the torrent of protests and accusations of “tarnishing the historical site.”

BBC tells the story of how the Starbucks had been a sore spot for the Chinese since it opened in 2000.

Of course this is part of a much larger conversation about globalisation, national identities, and historical pride. Starbucks, one of the many masks of ruthless American imperialism, has set an aggressive schedule for opening new shops worldwide — including China. And China itself has set it’s sights on global brand positioning, centered around the 2008 Olympics. So where do we draw the line? Are historic sites off-limits to global chain stores? Should they be restricted to national brands or a locally-owned businesses?

Then again, if the tables were turned, I don’t I would want a big Chinese coffee shop out front of, say, Mount Rushmore. Or Buckingham Palace. Or the Taj Mahal. You know what I’m saying?

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