Inkstone
    May
    30
    2018
    May
    30
    2018
    Costco faces backlash on Chinese internet for ‘very much’ considering Taiwan a country
    Costco faces backlash on Chinese internet for ‘very much’ considering Taiwan a country
    BUSINESS

    Costco faces backlash on Chinese internet for ‘very much’ considering Taiwan a country

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    After Gap, Delta Air Lines and Marriott, Costco has become the latest American company to have incited the wrath of Chinese internet users for what it has said about Taiwan.

    With a population of 23 million, Taiwan has been self-ruling since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. But Beijing sees the island as an inalienable part of Chinese territory, to be reunified someday, by force if necessary.

    The retail giant has been in hot water since Haiwai Net, the overseas edition of state newspaper People’s Daily, ran an article on May 22 accusing Costco of supporting Taiwan independence.

    Photo: Facebook / Formosan Association for Public Affairs

    The newspaper dug up a 2016 letter written by a Costco executive in reply to the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, which filed a complaint against the listing of Taiwan as a province of China on the chain’s online job application system.  

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    “It was simply an oversight, not any commentary on Taiwan’s status,” Costco Senior Vice President Patrick Callans said in the letter. “As you probably know, we have retail locations in Taiwan and very much consider it a country.”

    China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said foreign companies have to toe the line regarding Taiwan if they want to do businesses in the country.
    China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said foreign companies have to toe the line regarding Taiwan if they want to do businesses in the country. Photo: EPA

    The DC-based organization advocating Taiwan independence has confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the letter is authentic.

    The Chinese government has been pressuring international companies ranging from airlines to fashion brands to refer to Taiwan as Chinese territory.

    Group 5
    Costco should apologize to all Chinese people
    -
    Ms Ma, Reader of Haiwai Net

    Tip-off

    Haiwai Net broke the story after receiving a tip-off from a reader Ms Ma, who comes from Shanghai but has stayed in the US after finishing her studies.

    “Costco wants to earn money from the Chinese people, but it is shamelessly expressing its support for Taiwan independence. Costco should apologize to all Chinese people,” Ms Ma told the outlet.

    The story came at an awkward time for the warehouse club. Days ago, Costco signed an agreement to set up an office and a store in Shanghai, after more than two years of negotiation.

    Walmart opened its first store in China in 1996.
    Walmart opened its first store in China in 1996. Photo: Bloomberg

    Costco hasn’t responded to a request for comment from Inkstone. The warehouse club has been hugely popular in Taiwan, after it opened its first store in 1997. Costco now has 13 outlets on the island.

    But China has a huge demand for “hypermarkets,” giant stores that are usually located on the outskirts of cities and towns. According to market research company Euromonitor, this market will be worth $103 billion by 2020.  

    Costco is late to the game. Its rival Walmart opened its first store in 1996, and is now the third-largest hypermarket in the country.

    Grace Tsoi
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    Grace is a senior multimedia producer at Inkstone. She was previously a senior producer for BBC Chinese.
    Grace Tsoi
    arrow rightarrow right
    Grace is a senior multimedia producer at Inkstone. She was previously a senior producer for BBC Chinese.
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