Free Tibet statement on opening of KFC in Lhasa, Tibet

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

There’s nothing in principle wrong with a Western company setting up shop in Tibet but it’s always a source of concern because so far, very few companies have shown that they have any interest in bringing benefit to Tibet and Tibetans. Tibet is an occupied country and Tibetans have been squeezed out of business and economic development by Han Chinese immigration and China’s imposition of Mandarin as the language of education, business and government.

Tibetan interests aren’t represented by local authorities who serve Beijing rather than Lhasa and Yum! needs to show that it understands that. That means, for instance, that it ensures Tibetans are hired, trained and promoted fairly and that the Tibetan language is used in its restaurant. If Yum! treats Lhasa as just another Chinese city with its eye on the Chinese and foreign tourist market, it is playing into the hands of China’s government. The ‘local design elements’ apparently included in the store may play well with Chinese and foreign tourists who want a little fast culture with their fast food but the onus is on Yum! to show that its commitment to the community is not tokenistic and superficial. They haven’t done that yet.

For further information or comment, contact Free Tibet media manager Alistair Currie:
T: +44 (0)207 324 4605