A Taiwan coffee chain that faces pressure in China after serving the island’s president has disappeared from Chinese meal-ordering platforms, as Beijing warned it would oppose any businesses that support Taiwanese independence.
85C Bakery Cafe found itself in the crosshairs of China’s campaign to isolate Taiwan following a visit to one of its stores in Los Angeles this week by Tsai Ing-wen, the president of self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own.
85C sought to tamp down mounting calls for a boycott in China with a statement on Wednesday distancing itself from the independence-leaning views of Tsai’s political party.
But the coffee outlet has since disappeared from major Chinese take-out delivery apps, which an 85C company official confirmed to AFP on Thursday.
“We have noticed the situation and we hope it won’t be permanent,” said the company official in Taipei, who asked not to be named.
85C earns more than 60 percent of its revenue in China, and losing its presence on food delivery apps would be devastating.
Taiwan is a self-ruled democracy that considers itself a sovereign state but has never declared formal independence.
But China views the island as part of its own territory, and has escalated a campaign to isolate Taiwan internationally since Tsai came to power in 2016.
A growing number of international companies including airlines and hotels have been bending to pressure from Beijing to refer to Taiwan as part of China.
Taiwan’s state-aligned Central News Agency on Thursday quoted a top official with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Long Mingbiao, as saying in Beijing that any company that expects to invest and “make money” in China must adhere to its policies.
85C’s problems began after Tsai stopped off at a Los Angeles branch of the cafe this week during a US visit in which she became the first Taiwanese leader in 15 years to give a public speech on American soil, something Beijing staunchly opposes.
Internet users in China lashed out with boycott threats and calls for the coffee chain to quit the Chinese market.