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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 15:58 PM | 14-04-2018

Chinese urged to boycott US firms

The messages began to pop up on Chinese social media as the trade spat with the United States sizzled, urging people to boycott McDonald’s and other American firms to “defend the economic Great Wall.”

US President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods have roused nationalist sentiment in the world’s second largest economy, where consumers have a long track record of spurning foreign products when political nerves are frayed.

Appeals to shun the likes of McDonald’s, KFC and Apple’s iPhone have appeared on the popular WeChat messaging app and the Weibo microblogging website in recent days, AFP reported Saturday (April 14, 2018).

“Compatriots, our motherland is going through a difficult time. We must unite to support our national brands and help defend the economic Great Wall!” read one message being circulated on WeChat. AFP was unable to verify the original source of the message.

On Weibo, a car salesman from northwest China’s Gansu province wrote: “The US has fired the first salvo in this trade war. It’s everyone’s responsibility to boycott American goods!”

The Chinese government has hit back at the US tariffs and vowed to retaliate to any new measures, but President Xi Jinping and Trump delivered conciliatory words this week that raised hope of a negotiated solution.

China’s state-run Global Times has encouraged the government to take a tough stance, with an editorial last week saying China should fight with the same spirit as during the Korean War -- one that “fears no sacrifice or loss.”

“Chinese living across the globe have considerable purchasing power. We can cause a lot of damage to the US economy,” wrote one reader in the article’s online comment section.

But it may be tough to convince Chinese people to give up American brands that have become ubiquitous in streets and shopping centers across the vast country.

The calls for boycotts certainly didn’t ruin the appetite of the lunch crowd at a McDonald’s in downtown Beijing this week, just a stone’s throw away from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“I also received these messages, I just delete them,” said diner Wang Zhiyi, who was wolfing down a double cheeseburger with fries and a coke. “These people (who share such messages) just want to cause a ruckus.”

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