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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

Boy, 15, Fatally Beaten and Buried by Group of Minors in Shaanxi

The heinous crime has sparked discussions on the problem of campus violence and China’s criminal liability age.

Manya Koetse

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A brutal incident that took place in the city of Xingping in Shaanxi province is top trending on Chinese social media today.

On October 29, a 15-year-old boy by the name of Yuan (袁) was fatally beaten and buried by a group of six people, all minors.

Beijing News reports that Yuan was a second-year student at the Xianyang Xingping Jincheng Middle School. He had taken time off from school and had a temporary job in Xi’an before the incident occurred.

Yuan’s father told reporters that his son had returned to Xingping on October 29. A small group of minors, including four students, allegedly demanded money from Yuan, which he refused. It is also reported that a conflict occurred because Yuan added one of the minors to his phone’s ‘blacklist’ (电话拉黑).

According to various news reports, the group of minors attacked the boy with a pickaxe after which he became unconscious. They then brought him over to a nearby hotel and discovered he was dead the next day. They later buried his lifeless body in a pit near the school premises.

The location where Yuan’s body was buried, photo by Beijing News.

On November 2, other students who had heard of the crime reported it to the police. Yuan’s body was found in the pit shortly after officers arrived at the scene.

Local authorities released a statement about the case on November 10, in which they stated the suspects have been detained and that the case is still under investigation.

Various sources on Weibo claim that Yuan previously also suffered beatings at school, with severe school bullying being the main reason for the 15-year-old to temporarily drop out of school.

In a video report by Pear Video, Yuan’s father says they are still unsure of how their son died, suggesting he might have still been alive when he was buried in the pit.

China has been dealing with an epidemic of school violence for years. In 2016, Chinese netizens already urged authorities to address the problem of extreme bullying in schools, partly because minors under the age of 16 rarely face criminal punishment for their actions.

On social media site Weibo and on the news app Toutiao, many commenters are not just angered about the incident but also focus on China’s laws regarding the criminal responsibility of minors.

Some write: “Our criminal laws for minors should protect minors instead of protecting juvenile offenders!”

China’s criminal liability age is currently set at 14. Last month, Global Times reported on a proposal to lower the age of criminal liability in China from 14 to 12 in response to concerns about an alleged increase in juvenile violence.

“These minors need to be severely punished,” multiple commenters wrote: “Who knows who else they might hurt?”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©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 Food & Drinks

Viral Video Exposes Wuhan Canteen Kitchen Food Malpractices

Boots in the food bowl, meat from the floor: this Wuhan college canteen is making a food safety mess.

Manya Koetse

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A video that exposes the poor food hygiene inside the kitchen of a Wuhan college canteen has been making its rounds on Chinese social media these days.

The video shows how a kitchen staff member picks up meat from the floor to put back in the tray, and how another kitchen worker uses rain boots to ‘wash’ vegetables in a big bowl on the ground, while another person is smoking.

The video was reportedly shot by someone visiting the canteen of the Wuhan Donghu University (武汉东湖学院) and was posted on social media on November 7.

According to various news sources, including Toutiao News, the school has confirmed that the video was filmed in their canteen, stating that those responsible for the improper food handling practices have now been fired.

The Wuhan Donghu University also posted a statement on their Weibo account on November 8, saying it will strengthen the supervision of its canteen food handling practices.

“The students at this school will probably vomit once they see this footage,” some commenters on Weibo wrote.

Wuhan Donghu University is an undergraduate private higher education institution established in 2000. The school has approximately 16,000 full-time undergraduate students.

“I’m afraid that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” one popular comment said, receiving over 25,000 likes.

Students from other universities also expressed concerns over the food handling practices in their own canteens, while some said they felt nauseous for having had lunch at the Wuhan canteen in question.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

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

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