Global Times: Wal-Mart backlash in LA Chinatown

Global Times | 2013-6-13 18:28:01

By Ma Dai and Du Liya

A soon-to-open Wal-Mart store in downtown Los Angeles’ Chinatown has stoked new controversy following allegations the retail giant lacks a business licence for the outlet. A public hearing into the case is slated for July 11.

Since Wal-Mart unveiled the project in 2012, labor organizations have opposed construction of the ground-floor store at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Grand avenues.

Chester Chong, head of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles and a supporter of the store, told the Global Times that Wal-Mart had postponed its spring opening of the store due to ongoing renovations.

Activists filed a lawsuit on April 4 against Los Angeles City Council that unsuccessfully sought to bar the store from opening, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Labor organizations denounced the city council’s decision last year to grant a construction permit to Wal-Mart for the store without holding a public hearing.

However, a member from the Los Angeles Alliance for New Economy, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times that a public hearing will be held on July 11. The source claimed Wal-Mart only received a construction permit and not a business license from city council.

The retail giant started construction of its controversial store against the backdrop of rallying protesters in June 2012.

Many local shop owners have expressed concerns about being driven out of business, while some residents worry about the historic neighborhood’s culture coming under threat.

“Small businesses will be hurt and even closed down if a retail giant like Wal-Mart enters with its low prices,” a woman surnamed Fu, who has run a gift shop in Chinatown for more than a decade, told the Global Times.

But Chong argued Wal-Mart would offer diversity to shoppers and stronger competition from cheaper products, as well as boosting the local economy. Anti-Wal-Mart protests were partly instigated by labor organizations whose interests are threatened by the retail giant’s Chinatown store, Chong noted.

View article here.