Tibet is an ancient land, rich with breathtaking mountain scenery, a deep Buddhist history and iconic architecture. But there’s always been something missing.
At last, KFC has opened its first location in Tibet, right in downtown Lhasa. While China already has over 5,000 KFC franchises, it has taken them some 29 years to finally reach the “Roof of the World” and provide its people with some of the Colonel’s famous fried chicken that they have apparently been clamoring for.
This opening follows an anxious wait after the fast food company announced plans to expand into Lhasa last year. Back in 2004, similar plans were halted on the grounds of KFC not being “economically feasible” in Tibet. The proposal was also blasted by none other than the Dalai Lama himself, who wrote a letter of protest to Yum Brands declaring that the cruel treatment endured by chickens raised and killed to be eaten at KFC locations across the globe “violates Tibetan values.”
On Tuesday, the long-awaited grand opening was met with some protests from international observers. According to the AFP, the International Campaign for Tibet has asked Yum how it was planning on complying with the US Tibet Policy Act, which requires that corporations make investments to protect Tibetan culture and livelihoods. Judging by the pictures, that answer seems obvious.
But, the opening was also met with long lines of customers and adoring words from hungry fans. “As a diehard fan of KFC I waited in line for ages, and felt like crying when I took my first lick of my ice cream cone,” wrote one netizen.
Tibet came under PRC rule in 1951, and this marks yet another monumental achievement in Beijing bringing Tibet “out from the Dark Ages” and into the golden-brown light of its current “Golden Age.”
It also may start to bring Tibet closer to the rest of China in other areas. Like its population, China’s waists are growing. However, the Tibet Autonomous Region is currently China’s least densely populated division. Perhaps improved access to railway transport and fried chicken will change that.
By Matthew Patel
[Image via China News / Xinhua]