The Taiwanese bakery 85°C was forced to apologize to netizens in mainland China who threatened to boycott after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen received a gift from one of its U.S. stores.
The Taiwanese president visited an 85°C Bakery Café in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Tsai ordered coffee, chatted with staff and received a pineapple bun-shaped pillow — a company mascot — for a “personal souvenir.”
News of Tsai’s visit quickly spread on Chinese social media, with many accusing 85°C of supporting Taiwanese independence.
Some called to boycott its more than 600 outlets in the mainland.
“Get out of mainland China!” one wrote.
Others dug up past controversies such as the case of a battery found in a bubble tea cup in one of the company’s Shanghai stores.
In response to the backlash, 85°C issued an apology on Weibo, stating that it supports the Chinese government and the “1992 Consensus,” which promotes a “One China” policy.
“The company’s stance of firmly supporting 1992 Consensus has never changed,” the South China Morning Post quoted 85°C as writing.
“The company would continue to support the peaceful development in cross-strait relations and deepened cross-strait communications and cooperation while opposing any behavior and remarks that separate the brotherhood of the two sides.”
The “1992 Consensus” refers to the supposed outcome of a meeting between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) in the said year, where both sides acknowledged that there is only one “China” but that each side has its own interpretation.
Both the PRC and ROC’s Kuomintang believe that it is the sole representative of one, undivided sovereignty of China, while the ROC’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) — which denies the legitimacy of the consensus — believes that the PRC and ROC are separate, sovereign states.
Tsai, who hails from the DPP, does not endorse the consensus. She stopped by the U.S. store after visiting two of Taiwan’s remaining 18 Latin American allies, Belize and Paraguay.
She also managed to make a public speech between her U.S. flights, the first for a Taiwanese leader on American soil in 15 years.
85°C’s apology did not satisfy all Chinese netizens, especially when some discovered that the statement was only released on the mainland.
Meanwhile, many Taiwanese netizens slammed the company’s apology and called it a “betrayal,” but officials pointed out that it’s “China and its proxies” that must be condemned.
In further response to the bakery’s “offensive” actions, 85°C has been deleted from two of China’s major food apps Meituan-Dianping and Ele.me. Customers in mainland China can no longer order deliveries from the bakery.
In the mainland cities of Fujian and Quanzhou, surprise food safety inspection were reportedly carried out at over a dozen 85°C stores yesterday with officials accusing them of several health and safety offenses, according to Shanghaiist.