In many ways, it is a case of deja vu. Chinese citizens are threatening to boycott all things French, with the retailer Carrefour among the key targets.
An earlier boycott followed anti-China protests during the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay. Now some Chinese want a tougher stance over today’s meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Beijing has warned bilateral trade with France could suffer over the meeting. Some French restaurant owners in China, like Yann Gaultier, have already noticed an impact.
“We feel it in the business,” he said. “We feel it in our relationship with Chinese people who ask us: ‘What are you doing? We were friends and now what is happening?’”
Another French restaurant owner, Armand Lafare, added: “I think we will be affected one way or another. I hope it won’t be too dramatic but I think what is happening between France and China won’t last.”
The global economic crisis could limit China’s room for manoeuvre. Like other countries it is suffering the effects of the slowdown and antagonising key partners could be risky.