Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong urges Starbucks to cancel local franchise

Prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong asked for the franchise of Maxim's Caterers, which runs the Starbucks outlets in the city, to be terminated immediately.
Prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong asked for the franchise of Maxim's Caterers, which runs the Starbucks outlets in the city, to be terminated immediately.PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong joined calls for Starbucks to cancel its franchise with one of the city's biggest restaurant companies after a member of the founder's family likened anti-Beijing protests to riots and voiced support for local authorities.

In a tweet early on Friday (Sept 27), Mr Wong asked for the franchise of Maxim's Caterers, which runs the Starbucks outlets in the city, to be terminated immediately.

Mr Wong, who first rose to international prominence during the 2014 Hong Kong protests, included a link to a petition calling for Maxim's to lose its Starbucks licence. It has garnered more than 12,000 signatures.

The call by Mr Wong, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize two years ago, shows how corporations worldwide are being dragged into the stand-off between pro-democracy demonstrators and Hong Kong authorities. From fast-fashion giant Zara to Cathay Pacific Airways, brands and companies are being targeted if they are seen to be supporting either side in the dispute.

Zara this month denied speculation on Chinese social media that its employees were supporting anti-Beijing protests that disrupted some of its store operations.

The attack on Maxim's grew following comments by Ms Annie Wu, daughter of Maxim's founder, at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this month. Speaking to media after the speech, Ms Wu compared violent protests in the city to "riots" and said she wanted "the true story" of the stand-off to be heard.

"The international media has been very biased," she said at the time. "They ignore the silent majority in Hong Kong."

Ms Wu expressed full support for Hong Kong's government and police force.

 
 
 

A representative for Starbucks declined to comment.

Maxim's had no immediate comment, but previously sought to distance itself from Ms Wu.

"Ms Wu is not employed in any position or capacity at the company," Maxim's said in a statement on Wednesday.

Maxim's, which introduced Starbucks to Hong Kong in 2000, also has city franchises for Genki Sushi, a Japanese restaurant chain.