“I deliberately came here today because it’s an independent Taiwan store and it doesn’t support ‘one country, two systems,’ ” said Alex Shuie, who works in financial services, as he waited for his drink — known as bubble or boba or pearl tea — at the Ruguo stand in central Taipei.
“No, no, no, not that one, no, okay,” she said as we walked past outlets like CoCo, 50 Lan and Yifang, before arriving at Ke Bu Ke. This one, she told me, had not pandered to China and was therefore deserving of our custom.
As we joined the throng waiting for drinks — for me, standard milk tea with tapioca pearls, no sugar, half ice — Chen pointed out that the tea outlets we had passed were all empty. They were the ones that have voiced political support for China.
But China’s increasingly repressive actions in Hong Kong have led many Taiwanese to view “one country, two systems” as a threat. They say they won’t relinquish their freedoms — not for all the tea in China.
As the protests rolled on, some Hong Kong franchise owners of Taiwanese bubble tea outlets began to subtly voice support for the protesters. A CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice store printed “Add oil, Hongkongers” on its receipts, using the Chinese equivalent of “Go get ’em.” A Yifang Taiwan Fruit Tea joint displayed a sign cheering on the protesters.
A firestorm ensued on Chinese social media, with nationalistic netizens calling for Chinese to boycott the chains.