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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.

Manya Koetse

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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 editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Local News

Oil Tanker Truck Explosion Sends Shock Waves through Wenling, Zhejiang

A major oil tanker explosion has left over a hundred people injured and at least ten dead in Wenling, Zhejiang.

Manya Koetse

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On June 13, the explosion of an oil tanker truck has caused chaos in the city of Wenling in China’s Zhejiang province, leaving at least 112 127 people injured and nine 10 people dead.

The explosion took place in the afternoon at approximately 16:40 near the exit of the G15 Shenhai highway, causing a loud bang and wrecking some homes in the vicinity.

The hashtag “Zhejiang Wenling Tanker Wagon Explosion” (#浙江温岭槽罐车爆炸#) and other related hashtags (#浙江温岭一油罐车爆炸#) are attracting millions of views on social media site Weibo on Saturday evening (local time), with Chinese media and netizens sharing the footage of the damage caused by the explosion.

“My god, this is so scary,” a typical comment on Weibo says, with many people expressing their shock over the major incident.

Emergency and rescue workers are currently still at the scene to assist victims and clear away the wreckage caused by the explosion.

On Saturday night around 21:15 local time, Chiense state media outlet CCTV was still broadcasting a live stream through Weibo showing the latest images and footage of the situation and interviewing injured people in the hospital.

Local authorities and Chinese media are warning people not to go near Wenling’s Daxi to keep the roads clear for rescue workers.

Meanwhile, people on Chinese social media are spreading praying emoji’s and candles, expressing their sympathies for the victims of today’s explosion.

By Manya Koetse

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©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Local News

China’s Shulan City in “Wartime Mode” after Recording 13 COVID-19 Infections

Local authorities announced a “wartime mode” lockdown due to 13 new local coronavirus cases in Shulan.

Manya Koetse

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The city of Shulan in China’s Jilin Province is top trending on Chinese social media today after local authorities announced a “wartime mode” lockdown due to 13 new local coronavirus cases.

These are the first local infections in the entire province after a period of 73 days, China News reports, with other previous cases all being infections from abroad.

Last week, on May 7th, a female resident was the first to be tested positive for COVID-19. The city in northeast China is now the only place in the PRC to be marked as “high risk.”

One page on social media platform Weibo dedicated to the topic of Shulan going into “wartime mode” (“战时状态”) had received over 190 million views by Monday evening local time.

What does this “wartime mode” entail?
– All residents stay home, lockdown of residential compounds
– All public places closed
– Schools closed
– All public transportation suspended
– No more selling of fever-reducing medicine in clinics or stores

According to CGTN, a total of 290 people who have been in close contact with the infected patients have been traced and placed under medical observation.

For more COVID-19 related articles, please click here.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)
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