NYT: Reading and Comments about the Olympic Torch Relay in Paris

I read and commented on an article by the New York Times, for the language learning purposes.

And in China, a different sort of backlash has been taking shape — against the companies from countries that seem to be putting pressure on China. French companies like Carrefour are a particular target because of the mayhem during the Paris leg of the torch relay and because the French president has said he may skip the opening ceremony in Beijing over China’s human rights record.

Backlash: a strong and adverse reaction by a large number of people. Mayhem: disorder, chaos

“I think boycotting Carrefour is a peaceful and polite way to express our anger, our Chinese feelings got deeply hurt by France,” said Li Meng, a 25-year-old mechanic who is selling T-shirts in support of the boycott movement in the city of Yantai, in eastern China. “France humiliated China during the torch relay and keeps making trouble for the Olympics.”

Nay. Don’t mix the country with the people. It is better put in this way: “Some French” humiliated China. CCTV reported that Chinese journalists hadn’t received the treatment they expected in Paris. A journalist in a television interview said that the French Authority didn’t give the the Chinese journalists sufficient leeway and good camera positions to cover the torch relay. I am not sure what happened. Maybe those journalists were used to the preferential treatments at home, and they didn’t adjust their mentality well in abroad?

Some photos available on the Internet showed that the French police force had no mercy towards the trouble-makers on the scene and arrested lots of them.

American brands like McDonald’s and KFC have also been named as targets of a boycott because some American politicians seem to be supporting the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing blames for instigating violence in Tibet to disrupt plans for the Olympics.

It is a false alarm. I haven’t heard anything about boycotting these two fast food companies at the moment. What happened in Tibet was violent riots. There is no doubt about it. Many western media, while reports the number of deaths in the violence, failed to admit the rioters were guilty of killing innocent people. This made me realize how prejudiced the western media was in the matter.

No one knows whether there is widespread support for the boycotts, but the opposition comes at a time when many of the world’s biggest brands — including Coke — are expanding aggressively in China and planning huge sales and marketing campaigns to coincide with the Olympics.

No boycott at all for American companies as far as I know of this time. When the Chinese embassy was bombed in Yugoslavia, many Chinese boycotted these two companies, but I don’t think those people never went to McDonald’s afterwards.

Coca-Cola’s most recent quarterly results suggest the extent of its reliance on the Chinese market. During the first quarter, Coke’s unit case volume sales in China were up 20 percent in the quarter, one of the highest figures from any country. Over all, the company’s net income rose 19 percent in the quarter, to $1.5 billion, from $1.26 billion a year ago.

This sentence and the one above really explains it all. Coke is profiting handsomely in the Chinese market and will continue to do so, and only a fool will ruin this good business. Unit case volume sales: what is it? Anyone knows?

Neither Coca-Cola nor any of the other Olympic sponsors has flinched in its public support for the games, but the groups that are protesting China’s policies in Tibet and Darfur are vowing to step up their pressure. This could lead to showdowns, or even to a possible whipsaw for the companies if Chinese youths start protesting en masse in the other direction.

Flinch (its support): make a quick, nervous movement as an instinctive reaction to fear or pain. Whipsaw: a saw with a narrow blade and a handle at both ends, used typically by two people.

Ms. Tethong added, “You have influence, and you know you have influence. Please don’t hide behind a spin.”

Spin: when an idea or situation is expressed or described in a clever way that makes it seem better than it really is, especially in politics, e.g “They have tried to put a positive spin on the situation.” Source URL

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