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American Randy’s Illegal Changzhou Food Booth Sparks Discussion over “Double Standards for Foreigners”

Some accuse city authorities of double standards for allowing Randy to run his hamburger stall.

Luka de Boni

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When Chinese local authorities reacted leniently to the improvised breakfast food stall of ‘grandpa’ Randy in Changzhou, debates erupted on Weibo about double standards for foreigners in China.

A hot topic that has been included among Weibo’s top posts this week involves the American ‘Randy’, nicknamed ‘grandpa,’ who has set up an improvised and unlicensed breakfast food stall in the city of Changzou, Jiangsu province.

The post was shared by popular Weibo account Meishi Shijie (@美食视界, ‘Food Horizons’), which has 2.25 million followers. Within 72 hours, the post was liked more than 8000 times, shared over a 1000 times and received 2600 comments.

The topic was also widely discussed elsewhere on Weibo.

The post said:

American grandpa Randy recently opened a breakfast stall on a street in Changzhou, Jiangsu, selling hamburgers, hot-dogs, and mineral water. Because the food is so delicious and the stall so hygienic, his business has become very popular. This has come to the attention of city law enforcement, but they’ve not bothered him at all. In fact, they simply shook hands with him as they talked about matters regarding his license.”

Photo placed with the post.

According to People’s Daily, Randy is a 62-year-old American who has been living in Changzhou for seven years. He reportedly received permission from the local market to set up his stall there. He sells his hamburgers for 15 RMB (±$2).

The apparent lenient reaction of the city authorities towards Randy’s illicit food stall did not go down too well with some Chinese netizens. Many expressed that they felt the treatment was unfair, arguing that the leniency shown was based on the fact that the man is a white foreigner.

“What if the old man was Chinese? Surely the outcome would be different …” read the most popular comment, which was liked 4500 times.

“Wouldn’t they (the authorities) have confiscated the stall if he were Chinese?”, others wondered.

Many cities across China have seen crackdowns on unlicensed food stalls over the past year.

In the city center of Beijing, for example, many street food stalls have disappeared over the last years due to “civilized Beijing” campaign; street food is often seen as an indication of underdevelopment, but pollution caused by street barbecues and food safety issues are also said to be reasons for crackdowns.

Double standard for foreigners?

In the case of Randy, some netizens point out that had the street vendor been Chinese, authorities may have even resorted to violence to close down the food stall.

Confrontations between local officers and street vendors have turned into physical altercations before.

One popular comment, with more than 2000 likes, read: “Foreigners are
‘friendly’, but you wouldn’t hesitate to hit your own people..”

It is not the first time Chinese netizens complain about state authorities putting foreigners’ rights ahead of their own. Earlier this year, a video that showed the differences in dorms across China between foreign students and Chinese went viral. Many Chinese netizens felt outraged that the living conditions for foreigners were better than those of Chinese students.

In this case, there were also those netizens who came to the defense of the city authorities, saying they are generally good people and had been lenient with the American ‘grandpa’ because of their good will.

“Our city authorities here in Changzhou can be very helpful to the street merchants. Once, I saw with my own eyes as they helped some merchants move their watermelons back into their houses … do all people really think that they are monsters?,” said one commenter, gathering over 1700 likes.

Randy’s food stall is popular in Changzhou.

“There are many examples of local officers helping old grandpas and grandmas sell their vegetables. But you wouldn’t mention those, would you? To put it bluntly, you are being narrow-minded. How sad.”

But there are also those commenters who apparently only have one thing in mind: Randy’s hamburgers. They write: “I just want to go to Grandpa’s food stall..”

If they’re lucky, they’ll have a chance to taste Randy’s hamburgers soon; according to business media account @Avirex, Randy has now started to apply for an official license to run his hamburger stall, and is planning to open up his own fast food shop in the near future.

Note: It has come to our attention that Randy’s food stall generated media attention in 2014. The state media article referred to in this article also is from 2014. Nevertheless, this topic (again) became trending this week, along with the aforementioned discussions. All comments quoted in this article are from this week. If you have any updates as to how Randy is doing now and if he in fact has started up his restaurant, we’d like to know for a follow-up!

By Luka de Boni

This article has been edited and modified for clarity

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Luka de Boni is an MA student in Chinese Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen with a degree in (Chinese&Indian) History from the University of SOAS. De Boni has a strong interest in Chinese political culture and the role of Confucianism in modern-day China.

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China Brands & Marketing

Young Chinese Woman Dies at Haidilao Hotpot Restaurant

The woman allegedly choked while having beef tripe.

Manya Koetse

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On September 8, a woman from Putian in Fujian Province unexpectedly passed away while having hotpot at a Haidilao restaurant in a local mall.

The incident went trending on Chinese social media on Thursday, with the hashtags “Woman Suddenly Passes Away While Having Haidilao Hotpot” (#女孩海底捞吃火锅意外身亡#) and “Haidilao Responds to Female Customer Passing Away During Dinner” (#海底捞回应女顾客就餐时身亡#) receiving 50 million and 300 million views respectively.

According to various Chinese news reports, the 21-year-old woman had just finished eating beef tripe, the edible lining from the cow stomach, and drank some water after which she suddenly became unwell.

Footage circulating on Chinese social media shows how restaurant staff gave first aid to the woman by performing the Heimlich maneuver while emergency workers were underway.

Although it is rumored the young woman choked on the tripe, this has not yet been confirmed as an investigation into the cause of death is ongoing. The Haidilao restaurant where the incident happened is currently closed, and Haidilao responded that they are deeply saddened and will do all they can to fully cooperate with the police to investigate the case.

Haidilao (海底捞) is one of China’s most popular restaurant chains serving authentic Sichuan hotpot, a dining style where fresh meat and vegetables are dipped in simmering broth. Besides its tasty hotpot and wide selection of ingredients and drinks, Haidilao is known for its high-quality service. The staff is thoroughly trained in providing the best customer service, and Haidilao has introduced new concepts throughout the years to enhance the customer experience.

Haidilao is a very reputable company and is known to respond quickly to avert social media crises (example here and here).

As the story goes trending, many Chinese netizens point out the choking hazard of beef tripe. One lung doctor (@呼吸科大夫胡洋) also responded to the incident, suggesting that the Heimlich maneuver might not have been life-saving in this case since beef tripe is long and soft and could block the respiratory tract if the Heimlich maneuver is performed while the person is standing up, since it could potentially cause the tripe to go deeper instead of being pushed out.

The doctor recommends in these kind of emergency situations that if possible, for a chance of survival, the person could then be placed into an upside down, upper body down position for the Heimlich maneuver.

Other doctors on Weibo also use this moment to provide more information about how to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

Many online commenters think Haidilao is not necessarily to blame for what happened. “Judging from the video, the staff was quick and correct in their response. As for why the woman could not have been rescued, we’ll have to wait for the final reports.”

By Manya Koetse 

 

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China Brands & Marketing

Bubble Tea Madness: ‘Modern China Tea Shop’ Opening Creates Chaos in Nanjing

This bubble tea shop’s Nanjing opening got so crazy that police had to intervene and scalpers were reselling tea for 200 yuan ($30) per cup.

Manya Koetse

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Despite the blistering heat, Chinese bubble tea lovers lined up for the opening of a new Nanjing milk tea shop as early as 4 am. By 11 am, police discouraged people from coming to the area and the shop had to close its doors. The hype surrounding the opening shows the popularity of bubble tea and domestic brands in China.

The opening of a Modern China Tea Shop branch in Nanjing was much-anticipated, but it only lasted for about thirty minutes. So many people had come to the bubble tea shop’s opening at the Jingfeng Center (景枫中心) that the situation was out of control and the shop had to close its doors again.

The Modern China Tea Shop, known as Chayan Yuese (茶颜悦色) in China, was established in 2013 and is headquartered in Changsha. They call themselves a “creative milk tea store,” meaning they mostly sell desserts and milk tea or bubble tea, which has become very popular among mainland Chinese consumers over the past few years.

Milk tea products by Chayan Yuese.

Pearl milk tea or bubble tea was first invented in Taiwan in 1988. Most pearl milk tea products contain an iced tea base and milk, with chewy tapioca pearls and sugar. Although this is a standard recipe, China’s many bubble milk tea shops and chains now also have a growing selection of fruit-flavored bubble tea or chocolate-flavored bubble tea. Since milk tea came to the mainland market in 1996, it has beaten coffee as a drink in terms of popularity (read more here).

Through its logo and marketing style, Chayan Yuese or Modern China Tea Shop positions itself as an authentic mainland Chinese business, stressing Chinese traditional style and history. In an era of ‘China Chic‘, this clearly resonates with consumers.

Chayan Yuese uses traditional Chinese illustrations and stories on its products.

Earlier this week, the popular Modern China Tea Shop announced its upcoming Nanjing debut on social media. Many people already came to the mall in the early morning hours, starting at 4 am, to be among the first customers waiting in front of the shop, but the line got so out of hand that the entire area inside and outside the mall became blocked.

Chinese media outlet The Paper writes that local police issued a notice on Thursday morning to discourage more people from coming to the area since there were already too many people at the scene.

Due to the crowds and the blistering heat, Nanjing police sent out a team of officers to the tea shop to maintain order.

Meanwhile, some sellers were offering their services on WeChat or platforms such as Xianyu to stand in line and buy milk tea for others. The hype was so big that they could charge 200 yuan (nearly $30) to get their customers one cup of tea. Modern China Tea Shop later said they did not support such practices.

The shop was officially scheduled to be open from 9 am to 10 pm, but at 9.30 am, the doors had closed again, with a notice saying the store was “sold out” and would be closed for the day.

On social media, some commenters were confused about the long queues. “The only way I’d queue up like this is to get my nucleic acid test,” one commenter wrote, while others also wondered why people would be willing to gather in crowds like this in the Covid era. “Don’t you have to work?” some wrote.

The unusual situation also raised suspicions about Chayan Yuese hiring people to stand in line to increase the hype surrounding their opening, with some sources alleging that the store did in fact recruit people to stand in line for a payment of $10.

“I would only stand in line for a drink at 4 am if it’s an elixir of immortality,” one Weibo user wrote.

By Manya Koetse and Miranda Barnes

 

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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