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A bakery scheduled to officially open next week in downtown Shanghai jointly invested by a Taiwan star baker and Singaporean company Bread Talk has attracted more "talk" than expected, as netizens, suspicious of the brand owner"s alleged pro-Taiwan independence political stance, called for a boycott of the bakery.
The shop, Wu Pao Chun Bakery, on one of Shanghai"s most prosperous commercial streets, Huaihai Road, is the popular Taiwanese bakery"s first branch on the Chinese mainland.
It has been enjoying brisk business since it started a trial operation on Friday, despite early winter drizzle that has dampened the eastern city for days and the spiraling speculation on its founder"s political stance.
Wu Pao-chun, the bakery"s founder, was born in southern Taiwan"s Pingtung county in 1970, and started his career as an apprentice baker in Taipei at the age of 15. He founded the bakery in Kaohsiung in 2010 after he earned second prize in what"s considered the bread-making Olympics, Coupe Louis Lesaffre, in 2008 and won the title of Master Baker two years later.
Despite the baker"s popularity in Taiwan, Wu has been slow to expand.
In 2016 when asked about his plan for new branches, Wu was quoted by Taiwan People News as saying, "Although the Chinese market has more than 1.3 billion customers, the world"s market has over 7 billion. I won"t put my eyes only on China."
The words have been interpreted as Wu"s support for Taiwan independence and in extreme cases, some media distorted them as, "I would rather go starving than open a branch on the Chinese mainland", which aroused criticism and protest by mainland netizens at the bakery"s recent expansion.
In response, Wu issued a statement on the bakery"s website on Monday, saying he"s proud of being Chinese, supports the 1992 Consensus, and wants to contribute to cross-Straits economic exchanges.
He also called for a news conference in the bakery"s flagship store in Kaohsiung on Tuesday, where he further clarified his stance.
"I am just a professional baker, and the world of the bakery is pure and simple," he said. "I am happy that many young people choose this profession because of me and I feel responsible to create a better market for them."
Kaohsiung"s mayor-elect, Han Kuo-yu, attended the news conference in support of Wu.
"Master Wu is just a baker who wants to develop his business for a better life," he said. "So I hope people on both sides can protect and cherish him."
According to The Straits Times, Wu and Singaporean company Bread Talk signed a joint venture agreement in March to bring Wu"s bakeries to Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, as well as Hong Kong and Singapore. Bread Talk took an 80 percent stake in the deal and Wu Pao Chun Food Ltd holds the remainder.tyvek wristbands uk woven wristbands logo bracelets debossed wristband wristband keychain