M -- Golden Arches?

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Jan 7, 2018 00:21
A few months ago, the news that McDonald’s secretly changed its Chinese registration name to 金拱门 (Golden Arches) ignited a nation-wide discussion: what’s this burger chain up to? This fast-food company’s business has been bogged down in China since its expired meat scandal three years ago. Rumor has it that McDonald’s had tried to sell off its business in China, but the company has yet to confirm it. There must’ve been something behind this name change, and insiders at the Restaurant Administration suggested that McDonald’s China had indeed sold itself to a Chinese state-owned enterprise.

If that’s true, that means McDonald’s China has become an SOE! That’s hilarious! Though the name “Golden Arches” sounds a bit weird, it’s believed to be an auspicious Chinese moniker that can bring its bearer good fortune. As you can imagine, “golden” insinuates wealth, and “arches” evokes a pair of grandiose gates that may solicit business. Chinese youths have playfully given nicknames to some other foreign companies too: "Mermaid" for Starbucks, "Grandpa" for KFC, "Four Circles" for Audi, etc.

A week ago, a new Mcdonald’s opened at a huge mall near my workplace, which surprised me, because nowadays fast-food chains are considered "low-end" and therefore not allowed to operate at newly-built malls. McDonald’s is now expanding in an increasing number of malls where KFC has been rejected. There's a plausible explanation for this fast-paced expansion: the company has indeed become an SOE, which would enable itself to have more clout in running business in China.

By the way, I went to the McDonald’s near my workplace the first day it opened, and a server gave me two ice creams for free. Giving customers free gifts on the opening day is a common practice of China’s large-scale, deep-pocketed service companies. :-)