In a show of support to Huawei, some tourist attractions in China are offering free or discounted admission to people with Chinese smartphones.
The arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou this month in Vancouver has not only triggered a diplomatic row between China and Canada, which detained Meng at the request of US authorities for allegedly violating sanctions on Iran. It seems to have also resulted in Huawei, once a darling of the Communist Party, getting snubbed during China’s celebration this week of the economic reforms that kickstarted its growth 30 years ago.
But Meng can at least rest assured that China’s tourism industry still stands with her, as a growing number of tourism offices in the country come out with patriotic promotions for customers of Huawei and other domestic phone makers.
The first to do so was Henan’s Shennong Mountain, a famous geological site in central China. On Dec. 15, it said it would admit any tourist who owned a Huawei mobile phone into the park free of charge for two weeks. Days later, the tourism office of Laoshan Baiyundong, a famous mountain in Hebei that’s considered the cradle of Taoism, followed suit, offering free admission (link in Chinese) to Huawei phone users for six days.
The latest to do so is Jiangxi Wuyuan Tourism, a private company in southeastern China, which announced yesterday (Dec. 19) it was slashing ticket prices by half (link in Chinese) to a dozen nature sites to any tourist with a Chinese mobile phone.
For the Baiyundong tourism office, the decision was simply a way to “express patriotism,” a spokesman told Shanghai-based The Paper (link in Chinese). He added that it came out of “pure love for China, a small way to show support for China.”
On Chinese social networks, the response to these ticketing gimmicks has been mixed. While some enjoyed the discounts, others found it excessive. Weibo user Coco Xiaoqu said (link in Chinese) it was unlikely to persuade people to buy Chinese phones. “When the quality of domestic products truly matches the quality of foreign products, unprofitable behaviors won’t be needed,” she wrote.