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KFC in Tibet: Kentucky Fried Chicken Opens First Chain in Lhasa

Fast food giant KFC has opened its first outlet in Lhasa, Tibet. Although most netizens on Sina Weibo seem happy with KFC’s arrival in Tibet, Newsweek reports that the opening has also drawn criticism from Free Tibet campaigners.

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Fast food giant KFC has opened its first outlet in Lhasa, Tibet. Although most netizens on Sina Weibo seem happy with KFC’s arrival in Tibet, Newsweek reports that the opening has also drawn criticism from Free Tibet campaigners.

Almost 29 years after the first KFC opened in China near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the chain has now opened its first Tibet branch in Lhasa on March 8, 2016.

KFC’s opening in Lhasa is a first in many ways; not only is this the first KFC in Tibet, it’s also the first international chain opening up there, and it is the biggest KFC restaurant in the world (over 500 square meters). KFC, a brand under the umbrella of YUM! Brands, has tried to open its Lhasa store for over a decade.

“Nowhere outside else of the US has KFC expanded so quickly.”

Although KFC is not China’s first fast food restaurant, it is one of China’s most popular ones. The love between KFC and China is mutual; nowhere outside else of the US has KFC expanded so quickly. For its first 18 years straight, the chain had an average of 50% growth per year (Liu 2008, xi). There are more than 5000 KFC restaurants in over 1100 places in China.

Its popularity is also visible on China’s social media; on Sina Weibo, the fast food giant has over 1,3 million fans on its official account. In comparison: McDonald’s has 64,0000 fans, Burger King a mere 4900 followers.

A sandwich meal with chicken wings, cola and French fries will be 40 yuan ($6.10) in Lhasa, while it is 31 yuan in inland cities, People’s Daily reports.

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London-based organization Free Tibet, that supports an independent Tibet, has released a statement about KFC in Tibet earlier this week, in which they say that “there’s nothing in principle wrong with a Western company setting up shop in Tibet but it’s always a source of concern because so far, very few companies have shown that the have any interest in bringing benefit to Tibet and Tibetans,” and that “Tibetan interests aren’t represented by local authorities who serve Beijing rather than Lhasa”.

According to China Daily, half of the new KFC’s staff will be from Tibet.

“The Dalai Lama wrote KFC saying that the slaughtering and eating of chickens was against the values of the Tibetans. But it later turned out the Dalai Lama himself liked to eat beef.”

Chinese leading news portal Phoenix News reports that when KFC first planned to open a branch in Tibet, the chain received a letter from the Dala Lama, saying that the slaughtering and eating of chickens was against the values of the Tibetans. But, Phoenix News writes, it later turned out the Dalai Lama himself liked to eat beef.

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Dalai Lama aside, KFC mostly waited so long to open a chain in Tibet because it was not expected to be profitable. The economic environment of Lhasa today is strong enough for KFC to be expected to thrive there.

On Weibo, some netizens are astonished with the news of the first KFC opening in Tibet: “Does this mean that there was no KFC there before?!”, one netizen says. Other Weibo users wonder what’s next: “Where’s Starbucks?” they say.

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Local News

Chinese Twin Sisters Switched Identities to Illegally Travel Abroad over 30 Times

The lookalike sisters thought it was “convenient” to use each other’s passport to travel to Japan, Russia, Thailand and other countries.

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Weibo Shorts are concise articles on topics that are currently trending. This article was first published

On June 27, a local public security bureau in the city of Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, released a press statement regarding the peculiar case of twin sisters who used each other’s identity to travel abroad over thirty times.

The two Zhou sisters, *Hong and *Wei (pseudonyms), started switching identities when Hong’s husband, a Japanese national, returned to Japan. Hong wanted to join her husband in Japan, but her visa application was repeatedly denied due to not meeting the requirements.

Hong then decided to use her sister’s travel documents to travel to Japan to see her husband various times. She reportedly also used her sister’s passport to travel to Russia. She ended up traveling between China, Russia, and Japan at least thirty times.

Wei, who reportedly thought this way of switching identities was “convenient”, also used her sister’s passport to travel to Thailand and some other countries on four different occasions.

After authorities found out what the sisters had been up to earlier in 2022, they were advised in May to return back to China. While the case is still under investigation, the sisters are now being held for the criminal offense of border management obstruction.

The case went trending in the hot-search topic list on Weibo, where many people are wondering how this could have happened so many times. “If you exit and enter the country, aren’t fingerprints collected?”, some wondered, with others saying the border technological systems were apparently not good enough to detect such identity fraud.

There were also those who thought the story was quite “amazing” and sounded “like the plot of a television series.”

By Manya Koetse

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China Insight

What Happened in Tangshan? The Violent Restaurant Incident Everyone Is Talking About

This outburst of violence against female customers at a restaurant in Tangshan has sent shockwaves across Chinese social media.

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Over the past two days, everybody on Chinese social media is talking about an incident that happened at a BBQ restaurant in Tangshan, a prefecture-level city in the northeast of Hebei province.

A surveillance video from the BBQ restaurant captured the incident that happened at 2:40 on June 10th. Security footage from inside the restaurant shows how three female customers are dining when a male customer walks by and touches the back of one of the women (dressed in white).

The incident starts when the man in the green jacket approaches the women and tries to touch the woman dressed in white.

The woman pushes his arm away and raises her voice at him. When he tries to grab her again, she slaps away his hand, after which the man hits the woman in the face.

The woman fights the man off, but he hits her and the situation escalates immediately.

Within a matter of seconds, the incident leads to an outburst of violence. When the woman stands up to fight back against the man, her friend (dressed in black) stands up and smashes a beer bottle on the man’s head. She is immediately pulled away by the man, who is now joined by two other male customers.

While the girl dressed in black is beaten, her friend (dressed in gray) is coming to help her. One of the men violently throws a chair towards them and she is also being kicked. Meanwhile, the woman in white gets beaten again by the man who first touched her.

The two women on the right are also being attacked while the man in green again assaults the woman dressed in white on the left.

Another man also joins in the violent attack and drags the woman out of the restaurant by her hair. A man dressed in red comes up and suddenly smashes a beer bottle on the woman’s head.

The rest of the security footage was captured outside the Tangshan restaurant, where the brutal attack on the woman continued. The man in the green jacket violently kicks her in the head and others join in.

When another woman dining at the restaurant tries to pull the men away from her, she is also beaten to the ground and hits her head on the steps. The girl in gray comes to help and is also beaten while doing so.

The woman is dragged out of the restaurant by her hair and is then kicked and attacked by three men. The woman on the left (in a white t-shirt) tries to pull the men away, but she is also beaten to the ground.

For just a brief moment, the situation seems to calm down as two of the women are lying on the ground after the violent attack, the men standing around.

While the two women lie motionless on the pavement, the men stand around.

Unfortunately, the scene continues to escalate within seconds as the women are trying to get back up. When the man in the green jacket grabs a bottle to hit the woman he initially assaulted, a man (red hat) intervenes. But the assault continues.

The woman is kicked in the head, beaten, and repeatedly dragged by her hair. She is attacked by at least three of the men. When a third woman tries to stop one of the men, she is beaten in the head by a man who seems to be her own partner (he stops and hugs her immediately after).

The scene is incredibly messy, with some five men standing around the woman and violently attacking her. The same man who just seemed to protect her (red hat) now also joins in and another beer bottle is smashed on her body or head. The other women helplessly stand around.

While the attack continues, one of the men convinces the others to leave (“Let’s go, let’s go!”). The men then leave the woman on the street and take off.

The woman is left on the street as the group of men takes off.

Later, photos showing the main victim of the brutal attack in a hospital bed soon surfaced on social media.

The outrageous level of violence displayed in the attack sent shockwaves across social media on Friday and Saturday. On Weibo, several hashtags on the Tangshan incident went trending, some hashtags attracting over a billion views.

The incident is triggering different discussions. Some relate to the apparent slow police response to the altercation and the time it took for the men to be arrested. Netizens commented that China’s surveillance system is seemingly faster to detect one case of Covid and track down a patient’s last whereabouts than it is to track down nine men involved in such a crime.

Other discussions relate to violence against women and how the media responds to it, as some Chinese media sources described how the first woman “rejecting” the man set off the altercation. Many people also felt the media reports were downplaying the incident.

People are angry about how Chinese media described the incident and how it started by the woman “rejecting” the man.

On Weibo, the Communist Youth League used a smiling emoji when posting about the incident, also sparking outrage online. Although the emoticon was later edited out and comments were censored, netizens reposted the emoji and wondered why the Communist Youth League wanted to be sarcastic or funny about such a display of violence.

Netizens are angry about the Communist Youth League using a smiley in a post relating to the Tangshan incident.

There are then also discussions zooming in on bystander responses to the attack, and about whether or not others should have stepped in.

These are similar discussions to when an assault on a woman happened in Beijing in 2016, without anyone stepping in (read here).

By Saturday afternoon (local time), all of the nine men involved in the incident were arrested. Some of them had already fled to Jiangsu province.

In response to photos of the arrest of one of the men, a meme came up on social media warning people to stay away from men dressed like him.

Meanwhile, the case is still trending on Chinese social media. Gender, misogyny, bystander effect, morality, gang violence, rule of law, public security, and media bias are all themes that come up in online discussions. There are also those who are happy about the fact that the entire incident was captured by surveillance cameras, because otherwise the severity of the incident might have never come out.

On Saturday, Global Times reported that two female victims had been sent to the hospital for treatment and are now in stable condition. Two other women suffered minor injuries and were not hospitalized.

There’s an update to this story HERE. Also see some of our other stories related to women and gender issues in China here.

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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