Chinese protesters holding up white pieces of paper has been seen as a powerful expression of everything they want to say but are unable to due to censorship. While the expression in itself has been lauded, it has caused problems for the country’s leading stationery chain.
The symbolic protest has landed M&G Stationery that has 80,000 retail outlets across China in the soup. The company, which is pretty much a household name, saw its shares tumble 3 per cent after a document was widely circulated stating that M&G Stationery would ban the nationwide sale of A4 white paper sheets both online and offline, according to a report by CNN.
The document that was shared on social media stated that the ban was to maintain national security and stability. It also said that they aim to prevent outlaws from hoarding a large amount of A4 white paper and using them for illegal activities. It also said that M&G Stationery “strongly condemns the recent ‘white paper movement’” in multiple Chinese cities, as mentioned in the report.
Its stocks fell subsequently, and the company called the document fabricated. It said that they have notified the police, as per a Shanghai Stock Exchange filing. “The company’s current production and operation are all normal,” said the company.
However, social media users were not convinced by the company’s clarification. Many said that they were not able to order A4 sheets from the company’s online stores.
A Weibo user said that the company’s Taobao store does not support delivery in many parts of China. Taobao is a leading e-commerce platform in China. Another user said that delivery fails if one’s address is put as Beijing or Shanghai.
M&G Stationery with a market cap of $6 billion, recovered some of the losses but was still down 1 per cent at Monday’s close, the report added. On Tuesday, the stock rebounded.
The Shanghai-based company sells its products over 50 countries and regions in the world.
Meanwhile, China said that it will take steps to minimise the impact of its COVID lockdowns. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China has been adjusting the zero-Covid policy based on the changing circumstances. "We will keep improving science-based maximum protection to people's lives and health and minimise the Covid impact on social economic development," he said at a press conference.
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