An interesting article in the globeandmail on the popularity of Canadian brands and products in China。
In the midst of an ugly crisis between Beijing and Ottawa, Canada’s crustaceans have remained the country’s succulent ambassadors in China. Every day, Chinese diners crack open thousands of kilograms of Canadian lobsters, buying up more than $220-million in live and chilled catch in the first 11 months of 2018.
And the pitched tensions provoked by the Dec. 1, 2018, arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou have done little to dampen the enthusiasm for the lobsters, which are airlifted to China fresh from Atlantic Canada.
“There has been no negative effect at all,” says Di Aijuan, the owner of Beijing Lianxing Seafood, speaking from her shop in the Jing Shen Seafood Market, the biggest in the Chinese capital. It was 8:30 a.m., and she had already sold more than 2,000 kilograms of Canadian lobster.
She was aware of the anger that has poisoned diplomatic relations between Beijing and Ottawa, with China mounting an unusually personal series of attacks on Canada’s leadership. But, Ms. Di says, “it’s not easy to give up high-quality food, especially if it’s popular in China.”
With the Chinese New Year holiday season beginning, Weng Qihai, a worker at nearby Sunkfa Seafood, said “the only thing people want is to cook up something nice for their dinner tables. Who would think a clash between China and Canada is a priority?”
Canada may struggle to brand itself on the global stage, but in China, Brand Canada connotes a sense of reliability, cleanliness and authenticity. In its reputation, Canada is as an “all-around champion,” open, inclusive and friendly – less domineering than the United States, a place that is “more modern and fashionable,” according to an analysis in the Blue Book of Canada written by Liu Chao, a communication scholar at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.
It’s a national brand that has proven tough to tarnish, even in the midst of the worst dispute in decades between the two countries, one that has seen Chinese authorities warn about the safety of travel to Canada and state media pillory Ottawa as an execrable “henchman” for the United States, where prosecutors have sought Ms. Meng’s extradition.
In the weeks following Ms. Meng’s arrest, two Canadian men have been detained and interrogated by Chinese state security, accused of endangering the country’s national security, while a third has been sentenced to death after a speedy retrial on drug charges.
The tensions have darkened the prospects for investment, since Chinese authorities control capital spent by state-owned companies and exert leverage over transactions made by private firms. Bankers, lawyers and entrepreneurs have said the appetite for deals between China and Canada has noticeably diminished.
Some Chinese companies have specifically declared no interest in buying Canadian assets, citing the likelihood that local officials would block any such transactions in the current political environment.