International coffeehouse chain Starbucks sparked a controversy after opening a branch near a famed Lingyin temple in Hangzhou, the largest city in Eastern China. Some people worried Starbucks could possibly spoiled the peaceful environs of the secluded worship center that an oriental Buddhism temple should embrace.
This newly opened branch has been called as the second “cultural invasion“. In 2007, similar disputes occurred when a Starbucks store opened near Beijing’s Forbidden Palace in 2001. Some have already called for the Starbucks Lingyin Temple location’s closure. Furthermore, over the last weekend, some reports on social media outlets indicated the cafe located inside the temple. But it is not. It’s all because of the cafe’s name “Lingyin Temple Starbucks” which caused misunderstanding. The temple’s administration has already urged the cafe to change its name to “Lingyin Starbucks” to make it clear that it is not located inside the temple.
Starbucks has released a statement on its official Weibo account professing its respect for Chinese history and traditional culture. So did the coffee shop affect the temple’s atmosphere? Well, the area around the Lingyin Temple has actually been commercialized for some time. There’s KFC outlet opened about 50 meters away from the controversial Starbucks months ago, along with some supermarkets and restaurants in the area. Furthermore, the coffeehouse is actually quite far away from the temple, it takes 20 minutes walk from the temple gate to the cafe. Starbucks is just operating as part of the supporting facilities in the tourist area.
Comments on Sina Weibo:
“The smell of the combination of coffee beans and burning incense must be the fragrant smell of money.”
“Starbucks turned to the Buddha after it had ‘entered’ the Imperial Palace.”
“Must the ancient Chinese culture give way to the Western and commercial atmosphere? Starbucks should try open branch in London’s Big Ben.”
“So today we can allow having a Western coffee shop near the Buddhism temple, then why can’t we have a massage house or a sex toy shop nearby tomorrow?”
“Several years ago Starbucks was driven out of the imperial palace, and now it had to turn to monks.”
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