The Internet storm that last week engulfed Taiwan-based drink shops in China has spread to Europe, as Chinese netizens targeted a shop in Germany after an employee posted his political views online.
“Taiwan and China — separate nations on either side of the [Taiwan] Strait,” a manager of a Teamate branch in Dusseldorf said on Sunday on Instagram.
The post drew heavy backlash from Chinese users, with some leaving slanderous comments such as “Teamate plays child pornography at its shop,” while others threatened to leave negative reviews on the shop’s entry on Google Maps.
Google later removed the posts and closed the comment section for the shop.
Last week, Chinese netizens called for a boycott of at least 12 Taiwanese beverage chains after they accused the companies of supporting Taiwanese independence or protests in Hong Kong.
The chains on Chinese social media responded by changing their country of origin to “Taiwan, China,” expressing support for Beijing’s “one country, two systems” framework and calling Hong Kong an “inseparable part” of China.
The response led to another outcry from Taiwanese, many of whom called for their own boycott of the companies.
The first chain to be caught up in the controversy on Monday last week, Yifang Taiwan Fruit Tea, has 1,500 branches worldwide, more than 1,000 of which are in China, while 179 are in Taiwan and 29 are in Hong Kong.
As of Saturday last week, posts with the hashtag “Taiwanese bubble tea shops” were read 370 million times and discussed 70,000 times on Chinese microblog Sina Weibo.