Chinese netizens call for Haidilao boycott after finding out founder now a S'porean citizen

Chinese people contributed to the growth of the global restaurant chain.

Kayla Wong | September 08, 2019, 12:12 PM

Popular hot pot restaurant chain Haidilao's founder Zhang Yong is the richest man in Singapore.

But he has landed in the soup as Chinese citizens recently uncovered a fact about Zhang they were not privy to.

Displaced Singaporean real estate tycoons from top position

Recently, Zhang replaced real estate siblings Robert and Philip Ng for the first time as the richest person in Singapore.

The Ng brothers have occupied the top spot every single year this decade, according to Forbes.

Zhang appeared on the list of China's richest too before becoming a naturalised Singapore citizen.

Haidilao was recently named the best hot pot restaurant brand in the country in 2019.

Chinese netizens react

Highly-patriotic Chinese netizens were not pleased upon hearing the news.

Rich people moving away is a problem for the country

Screenshot via Weibo

"Our country's reform is a failure. Why are all the rich entrepreneurs moving overseas? This is a legit problem!"

Screenshot via Weibo

"Raking in his money in China, but spending it overseas, and then proclaiming his love for the country. There are too many of such people in the highest echelons of society. The ones at the bottom are eaten till nothing's left. I'm just saying the truth and don't wish to be criticised for not loving the country. Those who disagree need not reply."

Screenshot via Weibo

"What happened to 'Let some get rich first before letting others be rich too' (famous quote from Deng Xiaoping). The result is that the ones who get rich first run away! How thought-provoking!"

Calls for boycott

Some salty comments, which range on the higher end of the salinity scale, even included calls for boycotting Haidilao in order to "punish" Zhang for emigrating to another country.

Screenshot via Weibo

"Where did his money come from? Wasn't it made from every single customer who patronised Haidilao? Now everyone can just boycott the place. Even a tycoon can become a poor bloke! I've personally never eaten at Haidilao! Also, if  these rich people to become rich, then don't go eat at posh restaurants. Go to the roadside stalls, take care of the people at the bottom."

Screenshot via Weibo

"Just don't go eat."

His money his business

But not all commenters felt the same, with some thinking that whether or not someone makes bank is their own private business.

Screenshot via Weibo

"Even the "one country, two systems" framework, which was supposed to remain unchanged for 50 years, could change. If you don't take the chance to run once you make enough money, are you gonna wait for private enterprises to be absorbed by the state then? (referring to the First Five-Year Plan in the 1950s in China)"

Screenshot via Weibo

"I'm not concerned that he ran away, the thing is that he secretly brought his funds out. The money was earned in China, but it's being spent overseas. This is not patriotic."

Reply: "Bringing in patriotism in every thing possible... Would he have given you the money he earned?"

Screenshot via Weibo

"He was able to emigrate, and so he did. What has this got to do with you. Get off your high horse and don't be doing this "moral hijacking" here."

From mum-and-pop store to global chain

Haidilao started out as a small restaurant in China's Sichuan province back in 1994.

The name means "to fish from the bottom of the sea".

Known for its impeccable service, the brand expanded globally over the next two decades, and now has 593 restaurants around the world, including the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

But it was still unable to escape food safety-related scandals.

Two of its Beijing restaurants were temporarily shut down after news reports of their unhygienic conditions emerged.

Image via Sina

Its Singapore branch at Clarke Quay was also suspended temporarily for public health offences.

Top image adapted via Zhihu & Sina


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