The Forbidden Latte

Lisa Reisman is middle markets editor of Spend Matters and our resident direct materials and global sourcing Spend Management expert. In full disclosure, Lisa is married to the editor of Spend Matters, Jason Busch.

There was a fascinating article in our hometown paper this weekend about how when a Chinese blogger "wrote a blog entry this month calling for Starbucks to withdraw from the Forbidden City as a sign of cultural respect, he sparked a media storm over the power of the Web, the power of nationalism and China's power to manage both."

First, how great is it that Rui Chenggang, the blogger in question, is allowed to publicly articulate his opinion? Let's face it: China's brand of capitalism and success for that matter has been largely provided by the USA. These partial economic freedoms are loosening Beijing's grip on political freedoms. One point to the Americans.

I like to consider myself culturally respectful but I had a hard time sympathizing with the blogger's argument that Starbucks should leave the Forbidden City. I don't think that I'd find a single US manufacturer who hasn't felt the impact of Chinese produced everything here at home. The US has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs to low cost competition. But please don't misconstrue my comments as being anti-outsourcing. I'm a global free-trader and may the best source of supply win.

But it seems fitting to me that a little drop of latte has its place inside of Forbidden City, a stone's throw from Tiannamen Square. After all, since China, Inc., is everywhere in the US, why shouldn't a little Americana make its way into China?

Lisa Reisman is Managing Director and Co-Founder of the Direct Materials Sourcing Advisory Firm, Aptium Global.

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