While the Starbucks in the Forbidden City is getting the boot, the first drive-thru McDonald’s has landed in Beijing. And just because the Starbucks in the Forbidden City is being pressured from its location isn’t going to stop them from opening hundred more across China in the next couple of years.
China is changing big time. The bicycle is out. The drive-thru is in.
Out with the old. In with the new.
The old in this case being the Starbucks located at the Forbidden City, and the new being a two-story, drive-thru McDonald’s recently opened in Beijing. Granted that Starbucks was only 6 years old, but the fact that it is in risk of losing it’s operating permit, ending it’s brief but surreal existence within the Forbidden City, is a significant indicator that as China moves forward there will be Nationalistic backlashes along the way.
Or maybe having a Starbucks in the Forbidden City in the first place was just plain stupid.
Anyway, these two events represent the tug and pull of modern China.
BEIJING (AP) — McDonald’s Corp. opened its first drive-through in Beijing on Friday, launching a partnership with a major Chinese oil company to exploit the country’s growing taste for both cars and Western fast food.
The Beijing drive-through is the first in McDonald’s venture with China Petroleum and Chemical Corp., which McDonald’s China CEO Jeffrey Schwartz said would open 25 to 30 more in the next 12 to 18 months. Both gas stations and drive-throughs are booming as car purchases by newly affluent drivers speed China’s change from a bicycle culture to a car culture.
I find it telling that McDonald’s is opening these drive-thrus in conjunction with Chinese Oil companies. The two feed each other. The more people are convenienced needlessly in their automobiles, the more they will no longer drive. People in LA won’t even walk three blocks, they are programmed not to by endless drive-thrus and valets and satellite radio. By the way, drive-thrus didn’t turn out so well for America.
While America is slowly waking up to the true costs of cheap food and an automobile-centric culture it seems China is just getting into the game. What are we going to do as a planet when there are a billion Chinese living as wastefully as us? The planet will not take it.
I’m not arguing that we prevent the Chinese from living the same standards as us, that would be cruel, selfish, and immoral. I’m not saying we revert to third world status either. That would be impractical as well.
I’m proposing the world develops an eco-conscious alternative path to our current one. One I’m calling the Second-World. A model of living that stresses an environmentally sound approach to business, where we sustain our resources, develop alternative energy sources, and marry the GDP with a higher quality of life, and create new industries, an imaginative new approach, utilizing arts, music, leisure pursuits, tourism, and public transportation. Business for the sake of making money alone should not be idolized and exalted. Greed IS NOT good. That way of life got us nowhere but rich and unhappy and addicted to painkillers.
You reap what you sow. Right now America’s culture is prefabricated on an assembly line in some third world country and breaks the day you take it out of the box. In other words it’s crap. Imagine how creative society would be if it weren’t ran but the stuffed suits on Madison Ave but by the cats at Burning Man.
Everybody thinks Globalization and the future is about the Third World catching up to First World standards, perhaps the real trick to its success, and the planet’s survival, is the First World trimming down its own demands. Meeting the Third World halfway.
Bush originally opposed Environmental treaties because it would only apply to us while China and India were free to pollute their way into the First World. Scientists call this the “tragedy of the commons”, where a resource is plundered unnecessarily by competing fractions because each participant in the plundering was afraid that if it wasn’t going to be them to reap the benefit than someone else would, so everyone dug in until a resource is depleted.
Should we not sacrifice some of our GDP in adherence of tighter standards, creating a lower environmental impact, so that when China is ready our success and technologies could help it implement these changes? As the biggest source of waste and carbon emissions on the planet by far, can we morally argue that we won’t change because some of the countries with the lowest rate of impact (for the time being) won’t be held to our standards?
I’m not suggesting the First World should pitch itself in the dark here.
I’m just saying we should lead by example and start lowering our carbon emissions, our amount of waste, and our use of energy. Too many Americans have a Wild West mentality, a “log it or leave it” frame of mind. They believe in manifest destiny, and still think it applies, that we live in a land of endless bounty; and that to conserve our resources, or restrict our behaviors, is anti-American, is being a pinko communist.
Their thinking is myopic.
I wonder if they have the McRib in China? Or if they only release it every four years like here? Fish Fillet? Do they eat McNuggets with chop sticks? I’m kinda curious. Do they have a Royale with cheese?