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Weilong’s “Patriotic Spicy Sticks” Become Internet Hit In Lotte Boycott

Weilong’s ‘spicy sticks’ (辣条) have been declared a national snack since their boycott of Lotte. Snacking away has never felt more noble.

Manya Koetse



As the Lotte Group has come under fire in China due to a conflict over the installment of the controversial US anti-missile system on a golf course owned by Lotte, Chinese companies show their patriotism by boycotting the South Korean conglomerate. For Chinese snack brand Weilong, the boycott seems like a smart strategy: their ‘spicy sticks’ (辣条) are now declared a ‘national snack’ on Weibo.

A Chinese large-scale boycott of South Korea’s Lotte Group (乐天集团) is in full swing since the retail giant agreed to provide land to the controversial THAAD (萨德) anti-missile system on Monday.

The American THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) system will be placed on grounds that are part of a golf course owned by the Lotte Group in Seongju.

Chinese state media have responded with anger to the deal, as THAAD is perceived as a threat to China’s security. The deployment of the missile system comes at a time of growing nuclear threat from Pyongyang.

The Lotte conglomerate engages in diverse industries in China, including candy manufacturing, entertainment, beverages, and more. In China, Lotte has more than 80 ‘Lotte Mart’ (乐天玛特) supermarkets.

Lotte Mart supermarket in China.

The brand Lotte (乐天) has been a top trending topic on Chinese social media over the past week. Its Chinese site was hacked one day after it signed the deal for the placement of the defense system on its land.

A large-scale boycott of Lotte products has followed. Big e-commerce site has now removed the Lotte shopping site from its platform.



“I will never eat spicy snacks by any other brand than Weilong”


On Wednesday, Chinese food product brand Weilong (@卫龙食品), that produces ‘hot stick’ (辣条) snacks, announced on its Weibo account that it would no longer supply its products to Lotte supermarkets nationwide, and that it would cancel any future cooperations.

As a consequence, shelves ran empty of Weilong products at Lotte supermarkets; the pictures were shared thousands of times on Weibo, where netizens praised Weilong’s patriotism.

Empty shelves: Chinese company Weilong takes their products out of Lotte supermarkets.

Other brands followed and showed their support on Weibo by replying on the Weilong announcement. Taodo snacks (@淘豆) replied to Weilong that it had also taken all Lotte products out of its website.

Other companies show their support for Weilong on Weibo in boycotting Lotte.

Other Chinese companies, including Xiaomi (@小米主题), Yizi Job (@椅子网), Malan Mount (@马栏山苹果酒), Little Pig Rentals (@小猪短租网), and many others all expressed their support for the Lotte boycott.

For Weilong, the boycott turned out to be a smart marketing strategy, as the brand is now greatly gaining in popularity because of it. Many netizens state they will buy and eat Weilong hot sticks today as a patriotic act to show their support of the boycott.

Spicy snacks produced by Weilong.

“I will never eat spicy snacks by any other brand than Weilong,” (“以后辣条 我只吃卫龙”) many netizens say.

Range of Wulong spicy snack products.

Commenters describe the Weilong brand as “loyal”, “genuine”, and declare Weilong’s “hot sticks” as the “national hot snack” or the “nation-loving hot sticks” (爱国辣条).



“Is this still a rational way to show your patriotism?”


The majority of Weibo netizens fully support the boycott campaign, saying: “China strikes back! Fully boycott Lotte!”

They swear not to buy any more Lotte products, and some people post pictures of their broken Lotte customer cards.

Weibo netizens post photos of their broken Lotte customer cards.

There are also people who have taken their protest to the streets, such as in Yancheng in Jiangsu, where they call for a boycott of Lotte supermarkets.

Yancheng protest against Lotte.

But some netizens also question the boycott. “Is this still a rational way to show your patriotism?”, one Weibo user asks.

“Do you all even understand what THAAD (萨德) actually is?”, another person wonders.

Other people also ask why the Lotte Group is targeted instead of American companies. “Why don’t we boycott General Motors or Ford? Isn’t THAAD American?”, they say.

But for Chinese companies, following the Lotte boycott campaign seems like the right choice to improve their brand image. Electronics brand Pisen writes: “Brother Weilong has set the right example for us. As another national business, Pisen salutes you!” (“卫龙兄弟,好样的。同为民族企业,品胜为你点个大赞”).

In the meantime, Chinese official newspaper People’s Daily has also praised Weilong for boycotting Lotte. A post dedicated to the event on Weibo has now been shared over 19000 times.

The heightened popularity of Weilong snacks is likely to continue for some time to come. “Of course I will choose to eat Weilong Hot Sticks!”, many people say. Snacking away has never felt more noble.

– By Manya Koetse

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of 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 Contact at, or follow on Twitter.

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China Books & Literature

Why Chinese Publishers Are Boycotting the 618 Shopping Festival

Bookworms love to get a good deal on books, but when the deals are too good, it can actually harm the publishing industry.

Ruixin Zhang


on’s 618 shopping festival is driving down book prices to such an extent that it has prompted a boycott by Chinese publishers, who are concerned about the financial sustainability of their industry.

When June begins, promotional campaigns for China’s 618 Online Shopping Festival suddenly appear everywhere—it’s hard to ignore.

The 618 Festival is a product of China’s booming e-commerce culture. Taking place annually on June 18th, it is China’s largest mid-year shopping carnival. While Alibaba’s “Singles’ Day” shopping festival has been taking place on November 11th since 2009, the 618 Festival was launched by another Chinese e-commerce giant, (京东), to celebrate the company’s anniversary, boost its sales, and increase its brand value.

By now, other e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and Pinduoduo have joined the 618 Festival, and it has turned into another major nationwide shopping spree event.

For many book lovers in China, 618 has become the perfect opportunity to stock up on books. In previous years, e-commerce platforms like and Dangdang (当当) would roll out tempting offers during the festival, such as “300 RMB ($41) off for every 500 RMB ($69) spent” or “50 RMB ($7) off for every 100 RMB ($13.8) spent.”

Starting in May, about a month before 618, the largest bookworm community group on the Douban platform, nicknamed “Buying Like Landsliding, Reading Like Silk Spinning” (买书如山倒,看书如抽丝), would start buzzing with activity, discussing book sales, comparing shopping lists, or sharing views about different issues.

Social media users share lists of which books to buy during the 618 shopping festivities.

This year, however, the mood within the group was different. Many members posted that before the 618 season began, books from various publishers were suddenly taken down from e-commerce platforms, disappearing from their online shopping carts. This unusual occurrence sparked discussions among book lovers, with speculations arising about a potential conflict between Chinese publishers and e-commerce platforms.

A joint statement posted in May provided clarity. According to Chinese media outlet The Paper (@澎湃新闻), eight publishers in Beijing and the Shanghai Publishing and Distribution Association, which represent 46 publishing units in Shanghai, issued a statement indicating they refuse to participate in this year’s 618 promotional campaign as proposed by

The collective industry boycott has a clear motivation: during JD’s 618 promotional campaign, which offers all books at steep discounts (e.g., 60-70% off) for eight days, publishers lose money on each book sold. Meanwhile, continues to profit by forcing publishers to sell books at significantly reduced prices (e.g., 80% off). For many publishers, it is simply not sustainable to sell books at 20% of the original price.

One person who has openly spoken out against’s practices is Shen Haobo (沈浩波), founder and CEO of Chinese book publisher Motie Group (磨铁集团). Shen shared a post on WeChat Moments on May 31st, stating that Motie has completely stopped shipping to as it opposes the company’s low-price promotions. Shen said it felt like is “repeatedly rubbing our faces into the ground.”

Nevertheless, many netizens expressed confusion over the situation. Under the hashtag topic “Multiple Publishers Are Boycotting the 618 Book Promotions” (#多家出版社抵制618图书大促#), people complained about the relatively high cost of physical books.

With a single legitimate copy often costing 50-60 RMB ($7-$8.3), and children’s books often costing much more, many Chinese readers can only afford to buy books during big sales. They question the justification for these rising prices, as books used to be much more affordable.

Book blogger TaoLangGe (@陶朗歌) argues that for ordinary readers in China, the removal of discounted books is not good news. As consumers, most people are not concerned with the “life and death of the publishing industry” and naturally prefer cheaper books.

However, industry insiders argue that a “price war” on books may not truly benefit buyers in the end, as it is actually driving up the prices as a forced response to the frequent discount promotions by e-commerce platforms.

China News (@中国新闻网) interviewed publisher San Shi (三石), who noted that people’s expectations of book prices can be easily influenced by promotional activities, leading to a subconscious belief that purchasing books at such low prices is normal. Publishers, therefore, feel compelled to reduce costs and adopt price competition to attract buyers. However, the space for cost reduction in paper and printing is limited.

Eventually, this pressure could affect the quality and layout of books, including their binding, design, and editing. In the long run, if a vicious cycle develops, it would be detrimental to the production and publication of high-quality books, ultimately disappointing book lovers who will struggle to find the books they want, in the format they prefer.

This debate temporarily resolved with’s compromise. According to The Paper, has started to abandon its previous strategy of offering extreme discounts across all book categories. Publishers now have a certain degree of autonomy, able to decide the types of books and discount rates for platform promotions.

While most previously delisted books have returned for sale,’s silence on their official social media channels leaves people worried about the future of China’s publishing industry in an era dominated by e-commerce platforms, especially at a time when online shops and livestreamers keep competing over who has the best book deals, hyping up promotional campaigns like ‘9.9 RMB ($1.4) per book with free shipping’ to ‘1 RMB ($0.15) books.’

This year’s developments surrounding the publishing industry and 618 has led to some discussions that have created more awareness among Chinese consumers about the true price of books. “I was planning to bulk buy books this year,” one commenter wrote: “But then I looked at my bookshelf and saw that some of last year’s books haven’t even been unwrapped yet.”

Another commenter wrote: “Although I’m just an ordinary reader, I still feel very sad about this situation. It’s reasonable to say that lower prices are good for readers, but what I see is an unfavorable outlook for publishers and the book market. If this continues, no one will want to work in this industry, and for readers who do not like e-books and only prefer physical books, this is definitely not a good thing at all!”

By Ruixin Zhang, edited with further input by Manya Koetse

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China Brands, Marketing & Consumers

Chinese Sun Protection Fashion: Move over Facekini, Here’s the Peek-a-Boo Polo

From facekini to no-face hoodie: China’s anti-tan fashion continues to evolve.

Manya Koetse



It has been ten years since the Chinese “facekini”—a head garment worn by Chinese ‘aunties’ at the beach or swimming pool to prevent sunburn—went international.

Although the facekini’s debut in French fashion magazines did not lead to an international craze, it did turn the term “facekini” (脸基尼), coined in 2012, into an internationally recognized word.

The facekini went viral in 2014.

In recent years, China has seen a rise in anti-tan, sun-protection garments. More than just preventing sunburn, these garments aim to prevent any tanning at all, helping Chinese women—and some men—maintain as pale a complexion as possible, as fair skin is deemed aesthetically ideal.

As temperatures are soaring across China, online fashion stores on Taobao and other platforms are offering all kinds of fashion solutions to prevent the skin, mainly the face, from being exposed to the sun.

One of these solutions is the reversed no-face sun protection hoodie, or the ‘peek-a-boo polo,’ a dress shirt with a reverse hoodie featuring eye holes and a zipper for the mouth area.

This sun-protective garment is available in various sizes and models, with some inspired by or made by the Japanese NOTHOMME brand. These garments can be worn in two ways—hoodie front or hoodie back. Prices range from 100 to 280 yuan ($13-$38) per shirt/jacket.

The no-face hoodie sun protection shirt is sold in various colors and variations on Chinese e-commerce sites.

Some shops on Taobao joke about the extreme sun-protective fashion, writing: “During the day, you don’t know which one is your wife. At night they’ll return to normal and you’ll see it’s your wife.”

On Xiaohongshu, fashion commenters note how Chinese sun protective clothing has become more extreme over the past few years, with “sunburn protection warriors” (防晒战士) thinking of all kinds of solutions to avoid a tan.

Although there are many jokes surrounding China’s “sun protection warriors,” some people believe they are taking it too far, even comparing them to Muslim women dressed in burqas.

Image shared on Weibo by @TA们叫我董小姐, comparing pretty girls before (left) and nowadays (right), also labeled “sunscreen terrorists.”

Some Xiaohongshu influencers argue that instead of wrapping themselves up like mummies, people should pay more attention to the UV index, suggesting that applying sunscreen and using a parasol or hat usually offers enough protection.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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.

©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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