Anti-Carrefour protests hit China

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated Thursday outside stores belonging to French supermarket chain Carrefour in four cities in China. They were seen shouting slogans against Carrefour and against independence for Tibet.


BEIJING, May 1 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Chinese demonstrated
in front of outlets of French supermarket chain Carrefour on
Thursday, denouncing Tibet independence and voicing support for
the Beijing Olympics, Xinhua news agency said.

"We're here because of what happened in Paris where there
were violent protests. We're here to show the outside world has
a misperception about China, that Chinese people are united and
firm, but you can see that we're not at all violent," said one
protester, who would only give his family name, Lan.

Carrefour became a target of Chinese anger, drawing an
outpouring of nationalism and indignation, after the chaotic
Olympic torch relay in Paris, which saw pro-Tibet protesters
try to snatch the flame away from a wheelchair-bound athlete,
Jin Jing.

Xinhua said in its brief report that hundreds of protesters
held Chinese national flags and shouted slogans against
Carrefour and 'Tibet independence' in front of the outlets of
the French retailer in the cities of Changsha, Fuzhou and

In the southeastern city of Fuzhou, protesters handed out
Chinese flags and leaflets, while the southwestern city of
Chongqing was hit too, the state news agency said.

"About 400 people are gathering on the square discussing
protest plans," it said of Fuzhou. "Local officials and about
40 policemen have arrived at the scene to maintain order."

In the southern city of Changsha some 200 protesters "tried
to persuade people not to purchase at the store", Xinhua said.

And in the tourist city of Xian, home to the Terracotta
Warriors, about two dozen mainly young men held an orderly
protest outside Carrefour, carrying red banners reading
"Boycott Carrefour as soon as possible" and "Boycott France".

Security was also stepped up at branches in Beijing and
commercial hub Shanghai, but most shoppers went about their
business as if nothing was amiss, with few signs of protest.

Last month, Chinese took to the streets in several cities
to demand a boycott of French goods, and targeted Carrefour in
their protests.

Chinese Internet users also accused the French retail giant
of supporting pro-Tibetan independence groups seeking to
disrupt the Beijing Olympics.

Supporters of a boycott said brands under luxury goods
group LVMH had "donated a lot of money to the Dalai Lama", the
exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

Carrefour is 10.7 percent-owned by Blue Capital, a holding
company owned by property group Colony Capital and French
billionaire Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of
luxury goods group LVMH.


China's government, in an effort to moderate the
nationalistic fervour, stepped into the corner of the embattled
French supermarket group last week, commending the way it runs
its Chinese business and thanking it for supporting the Beijing

State broadcaster CCTV quoted an unnamed official from the
Ministry of Commerce as saying that 99 percent of Carrefour's
40,000 employees in China are Chinese, and 95 percent of the
products it sells are made in China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao told
Reuters in an interview this week that China did not hate

"From the Chinese people's point of view, there isn't any
hostility or hatred toward the French people. Their biggest
feeling is probably puzzlement: why did such things happen in
Paris?" he said.

Carrefour's head, Jose-Luis Duran, has denied allegations
that it backs the Dalai Lama, who is the target of fierce
criticism by Beijing.

But the supermarket chain cancelled a sales promotion
planned for the May Day holiday.

"Considering the present situation, we have decided to
cancel this event," the company said in an emailed statement.

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