After the torch Olympic relay debacle in Paris (when a Tibetan protestor succeeded in snatching the torch from Chinese paralympic athlete Jin Jing) a campaign to boycott French goods arose in China. Calls to this effect have been circulated on the Internet and by SMS. They have targeted in particular Carrefour, a “hypermarket” (supermarket with a consumer goods section) chain, which is probably the most visible French-owned enterprise in China; moreover, its executives are rumoured to be supporters of the Dalai Lama.
Despite efforts by the French government (including an apology to Jin Jing from President Sarkozy) and new T-shirts for Carrefour shop clerks emblazoned with “Support the Olympics!” the boycott appears to be having some impact. Chinese websites report that Chinese suppliers are complaining because Carrefour is returning stocks of unsold goods. There have been skirmishes in front of some Carrefour outlets, and one has had its entrance blocked by picketers who weren’t letting shoppers through.
While Chinese media have reported both pro- and anti-boycott opinions (prominent intellectuals who do not support the boycott then predictably received threats from Internet fenqing), some of our friends who have in the past not taken part in any boycotts decided to join.