Global Blue becomes latest firm to risk Chinese consumer boycott over sovereignty

By Song Lin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/18 14:33:39

Global Blue becomes latest firm to risk Chinese consumer boycott over country listings

Global Blue, a Switzerland-based tourism shopping tax refund company, triggered outrage among Chinese netizens after it listed Hong Kong as an independent country in its refund system, and one of its customer service staff later claimed that China's island of Taiwan is also "an independent country." 

The company on Saturday officially responded on Chinese Weibo that they would sack the staff member immediately and noted that the company firmly supports China's territorial integrity and sovereignty. However, Chinese netizens are not satisfied with what they consider to be a glib statement and are urging the company to show proof of the firing and correct related mistakes.

A Chinese customer earlier found that Global Blue listed China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as an "independent country" in the company's refund system. In an email the customer sent to the company, he urged them to correct the mistake as soon as possible.

However, a customer service representative named Eva J answered that there have been cases of Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan passport holders being refused by customs after filling in China on their tax return forms. "Taiwan is an independent country and not part of China," she added.

The screenshots of the email have been circulating on China's Twitter-like social media platform Weibo. 

"A single statement on Weibo is not enough, the company should post apologies on overseas social media platforms as well," some netizens said. "The executive of the customer service department should also be fired."

Global Times reporters noted that Hong Kong is now been shown as "Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China" on the company's website, while Taiwan could not be found in the selection as of Sunday noon.

Global Blue is not the first to harm Chinese consumers' national sentiments recently. Foreign brands, including some world-renowned fashion houses, have been found making similar mistakes and then lining up to issue statements to clarify that they agreed that Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan are inalienable part of China.

Yang Qingshan, an expert at the luxury research center of the University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times in a recent interview that China's territorial integrity and sovereignty is a solid red line which can never be crossed by any country or company.


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