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Nationalism vs fast food? Burger, donuts and chicken too good for Chinese to give up

Despite US-China trade tiff, Chinese consumers largely agree that calls to boycotts American fast food joints are from a small section of people looking to create ruckus.

Nationalism vs fast food? Burger, donuts and chicken too good for Chinese to give up
Photo courtesy: McDonalds China

In the days following imposition of tariff on Chinese products by the Donald Trump administration, there has been a raging debate on Chinese social media platforms with many urging a counter offensive by boycotting American fast food joints. It is a call not many may be listening.

Burgers, fried chicken, fries and colas have their own way of rising above nationalism, or so it would seem.

China may have kept its economic doors firmly shut to the outside world for several decades but those times are now long gone. Local Chinese , much like most elsewhere, love their fast food. A lot. Little wonder then that messages implying that eating in American restraunts like McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts and KFC is a sign of weak patriotism, is not finding many takers.

News agency AFP reports that there has been no dip in footfall at most American fast ood joints in Beijing. "I received these messages. I deleted them," a customer at McDonalds was quoted as saying. "People who send such messages just want to create ruckus."

There are many who agree with him. "Do you think this doughnut is a symbol of American overreach and imperialism?” an employee at Dunkin Donuts was quoted as asking in the AFP report.

But burgers, donuts, fried chicken and other fast food favourites are an exception. The Chinese have not always been so forgiving.

The most-recent incident when Chinese actually did pay heed to boycotting foreign products was when Hyundai sales plumeted after South Korea allowed the United States to install THAAD anti-missile systems on its territory. The system was considered a threat to China and there was a call to boycott the South Korean auto giant. It worked and Hyundai paid a heavy price for a political decision.

A French relatil company called Carrefour too suffered for no fault of its own when its stores were boycotted only because pro-Tibet activists had disrupted the Olympic torch relay in Paris before the 2008 Beijing Games.

When it comes to matters of the belly though, it is not always easy to say no. That and the fact that China, possibly, does not have its own alternatives worthy enough to match American fast food companies. For now, a majority of Chinese are 'lovin' it.'