[photopress:starbuck.jpg,full,alignright]The Starbucks coffee shop operating on the historic site of Beijing’s Forbidden City has closed down. An online campaign arguing that the shop was trampling on Chinese culture had drawn more than 500,000 signatures.
The Forbidden City was built in 1420 and was home to 24 emperors until the end of imperial rule in 1911.
It attracted nearly nine million visitors last year, is China’s top tourist attraction and a Unesco World Heritage site.
Starbucks’s vice-president for Greater China Eden Woon said: ‘There were several choices, one of which was to continue, but it would not carry the Starbucks name any more. We decided at the end that it is not our custom worldwide to have stores that have any other name, so therefore we decided the choice would be to leave.’
Starbucks, which has nearly 200 outlets in China, opened the Forbidden City shop seven years ago and removed its brand sign two years ago after strong protests.
That did not stop the protests. China state TV personality Rui Chenggang led the online campaign, saying the shop’s presence ‘undermined the solemnity of the Forbidden City and trampled on Chinese culture’.
Note that Starbucks was not the only shop there but they are under pressure. As the palace is undergoing restoration the number of shops is being reduced and has already more than halved.