BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Internet users are calling on consumers to boycott Carrefour, the French retail giant they accuse of supporting pro-Tibetan independence groups seeking to disrupt this year’s Beijing Olympics.
Chinese people were urged through text messages and online chat rooms not to buy goods from Carrefour outlets from May 1, with posts accusing the company of supporting funding for the Dalai Lama.
Spokesmen at Carrefour’s China office could not be reached for comment. The Beijing News on Tuesday quoted a Carrefour spokesman surnamed Li as saying the company was investigating the boycott calls.
China has been waging a propaganda war against Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader whom it accuses of masterminding deadly riots in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa last month and other ethnic Tibetan areas in neighboring provinces.
China says at least 18 innocent civilians were killed by Tibetan mobs. Tibet’s government-in-exile puts the death toll at 140, mostly victims of the crackdown.
The vast majority of Chinese people are enthusiastic about hosting the Olympics and many have rallied behind the government in denouncing pro-Tibetan independence groups as separatists and terrorists.
Protests repeatedly disrupted the Olympic torch’s journey through Paris last week, and prompted scuffles between Tibet activists and pro-Chinese supporters.
“I think some Chinese citizens have recently expressed their own opinions and emotions,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu told a news conference, referring to the Carrefour boycott call.
“...We hope the French side can listen to the Chinese people’s voices concerning the recent problems and adopt an objective position.”
Supporters of the boycott call said brands under luxury goods group LVMH had “donated a lot of money to the Dalai Lama”.
Carrefour is 10.7 percent-owned by Blue Capital, a holding company owned by property group Colony Capital and French billionaire Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of luxury goods group LVMH.
“Adding the French people’s support for Tibetan separatists during the Paris leg of the torch relay, there is truly no reason to give the French money by buying their goods,” the boycott call said, posted on web portal Chinaren (www.chinaren.com).
“Let them see the Chinese people’s power, and the power of the Internet,” the post said.
Chinese Internet comments have also attacked Western media coverage of unrest in Tibet as biased towards pro-independence groups, and have said that news reports ignored cheering Chinese and foreign spectators to focus on disruptions to the torch relay.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Macfie