Chinese firm with Filipino links feel heat amid stand-off

BEIJING, May 15: As the China-Philippines stand-off over the disputed island in South China Sea flared up, a Chinese supermarket chain has rushed to deny any links with Manila to stave off public boycott.
Beatrice denied its overseas connections amid angry calls for a boycott after its former owner from the Philippines was found to have led recent anti-China protests over the island called Huangyan by China and Pagatag shoal by Philippines.
A call for a boycott posted at Sina Weibo, China’s most popular tweeting service, was forwarded 79,000 times as of Tuesday, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The number of tweets related to “Beatrice”—the name of the supermarket—at Sina Weibo has grown to 400,000.
“While earning big money in China, the boss of Beatrice Group was organising anti-China protests worldwide.    Everybody should see through her and join the boycott,” a microblog posting said.
Li Feng, deputy general manager at Xiamen Beatrice Chain Stores Co, Ltd quickly denied any links saying that the company is now fully Chinese-owned and no longer maintains relations with Lewis.
Lewis was chair of the board of Xiamen Beatrice Chain Stores Co, Ltd from June 2005 to December 2009.
It was later sold out to local Chinese. Its current owners Shi Qi and Chen Shuiqing do not know Lewis, Li said.
After the stand-off which is now into the second month the owners admitted that the company’s turnover has dropped by nearly 10 percent. Beatrice now runs 38 convenience stores and employs 200 workers in Xiamen.
A saleswoman at one of the stores said she had received angry phone calls and been asked to quit.
A number of Philippine businesses, ranging from real estate and clothing to airlines and snack food brands, are currently operating in China.
Many of them are located in Fujian, the ancestral home of most of the Philippines’ ethnic Chinese population.
Besides putting out a travel advisory resulting in the cancellation of hundreds of Chinese tourists to Philippines, China also said those tourists who are already there will return by May 16.
China also ordered strict quarantine checks on banana imports from Philippines restricting the flow. (PTI)