March 10, 2017 11:30
Lotte Group is suffering snowballing losses after becoming the target of Chinese ire over the stationing of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery from the U.S. in Korea.
Lotte Mart on Thursday closed its online shopping website for fear of a Chinese hacking attack after Chinese authorities temporarily closed down more than half of its stores across China for real or imaginary health-and-safety violations. A total of 55 out of 99 Lotte Marts were told to close on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, shipments of Lotte Chilsung beverages are stuck in customs in China. "Fruit and soda drinks have been stuck in China's customs due to insufficient documentation since March 2," a company staffer said. "Customs procedure are taking a long time because of more stringent inspections."
And Lotte is also on alert after health inspectors suddenly showed up at a plant owned by Lotte Confectionery and Hershey's in Beijing on Wednesday.
The measures all appear to be retaliation for Lotte handing over to the Korean government a plot of land where the THAAD battery will be stationed later this year.
But Lotte said it has no plans to pull out of China. "We find it unfair that the Chinese government imposes irrational sanctions on us, but there's nothing we can do, so we're just waiting for everything to calm down," a Lotte spokesman said. "To protect the knowhow and infrastructure we've built in the Chinese market, we're not considering withdrawing despite the latest developments."
Lotte Group has invested more than W10 trillion in China since 1994 (US$1=W1,160).
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