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Why Starbucks is now on Hong Kong protesters’ business boycott list

Why Starbucks is now on Hong Kong protesters’ business boycott list

Early on in Hong Kong’s protest movement, the choice of where one shopped, ate, and drank quickly became a political statement. As protests have raged on well into their third month, more and more brands and companies have found themselves caught up in the political fray.

Shopping malls owned by local developer Sun Hung Kai Properties, for example, were blacklisted by protesters after it was accused of allowing riot police to enter and carry out a violent crackdown. Yoshinoya, the Japanese fast-food chain, was similarly pilloried by protesters (paywall) when its local franchise owner, a pro-Beijing businessman, voiced support of the Hong Kong government to contain fallout from a social media post that poked fun at the police.

Now Seattle coffee chain Starbucks has become an unexpected focus of protester censure.

Starbucks arrived in Hong Kong almost two decades ago, partnering with the local catering giant Maxim’s to open its first store in the city in 2000. In 2011, Maxim’s took full ownership of the franchise when it acquired Starbucks’ entire stake in the Hong Kong and Macau markets.