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China Exclusive: McDonald's, KFC or Yoshinoya: Chinese kids "addicted" to foreign junk food
29/9/2005 17:19

Liu Kai, father of a 15-year old boy, found himself frequently at odds when deciding where to eat.
"I wanted to choose a Chinese restaurant for our mid-autumn festival dinner, but my son said he preferred a hamburger, and that's why we are in Beijing," said Liu Kai, whose family spent the traditional Chinese festival for family union at the nearby KFC.
"We adults don't like such stuff, and have no idea why the kids are so fond of (hamburgers)," complained Liu Kai.
But 15-year old Liu Lin, had a rationale.
"I have had to eat moon cakes (a traditional Chinese pie for the special occasion as mid-autumn festival) every year, but their taste is unbearable for me. I would rather eat here."
"Daddy, you can use hamburgers as moon cakes, too," the boy joyously told his father, who sighed and shook his head. HAMBURGERS, CHIPS, AND CHICKEN WINGS: DELICIOUS TO CHINESE YOUTH
Munching on french fries and sipping cola while walking down the street has almost become a fixture in the daily life of Chinese youngsters, a sign of the success and even fruition of foreign fast food corporation in China.
McDonald's, KFC and Japan's Yoshinoya have become the companions of urban Chinese new generation within only 20 years, with McDonald's golden arches and the amiable smile of the KFC Colonel on almost every Chinese street.
In drastic contrast, traditional Chinese hot-pot and dumpling restaurants are losing appeal to Chinese kids.
A survey shows that about 80 percent of Beijing middle and primary school students are fond of foreign snacks, 43.6 percent of them go to McDonald's, KFC or other foreign fast food eateries every month, and 6.1 percent go every week or every day.
Festivals, holidays, and birthdays and parties, all provide reasons for urban Chinese kids to eat foreign fast food.
The survey also found that the younger the kids are, the more are they fond of foreign snacks. 43 percent of primary school pupils said they "liked very much" foreign fast food, and the ratio has fallen to 25.5 percent for the secondary school students. FLOURISHING RESTAURANTS: IRRESISTIBLE ATTRACTION OF FOREIGN SNACKS?
Since its debut on a downtown Beijing commercial street in 1987, KFC proliferated across China, winning over China's youth in one city after another.
It now has 158 outlets in Shanghai alone.
It's rival, McDonald's, which changed its 50-year old slogan to "I'm loving it" to entice young Chinese consumers with modern values.
Yoshinoya, another snack food company, plans to open 300 more restaurants around China in the coming five years, Fang Guixin, deputy general manager of Beijing Yoshinoya, announced recently.
Accompanied by warnings from nutritionists that it is "junk food", "unhealthy" and "no good", foreign fast food has kept growing in China.
Professor Wang Chengrong with the Beijing Cadre Management College noted that the foreign fast food phenomenon is the epitome of China's social changes after the country adopted "the policy of opening itself to the outside world", which has brought together affluence and foreign investment, and opened a vast market for foreign fast food corporations and their masterful propaganda machines.