Eslite Group (誠品集團) may see its plan to open a bookstore in the Shanghai Tower in doubt, after China’s propaganda authorities on Thursday ordered a news blackout on the project, according to a report by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP) yesterday.
However, the Taiwan-based bookstore chain said it had not heard anything and would continue the Shanghai project in accordance with China’s laws and regulations.
The group’s remarks came after Eslite Spectrum Corp (誠品生活), a subsidiary of the group that focuses on operating department stores, on Wednesday signed a letter of intent with the developer of the Shanghai Tower, a 121-story skyscraper set to open in 2015, to lease 6,500m2 of space.
The group plans to build a new urban cultural center by launching a bookstore and a cultural and creative department store in the skyscraper — which is to become Shanghai’s tallest building.
However, the SCMP said in report yesterday that Eslite’s Shanghai plans might be in trouble after censors ordered a blackout.
“The matter concerning Taiwan Eslite Bookstore [intending] to open a branch in Shanghai should not be reported anymore,” the newspaper said, quoting a short message sent by the Shanghai office of the propaganda department to editors in charge of the city’s major media outlets on Thursday.
The message did not cite any reasons for the news blackout, the report said.
However, anonymous Shanghai newspaper editors speculated that the political background of some Eslite executives, as well as concerns over the kind of books Eslite might display in the Shanghai branch may have prompted authorities to order the media silence, the SCMP reported.
A Taipei-based spokesperson for Eslite yesterday said by telephone that she had not heard about the matter.
“The group will proceed with the Shanghai project as planned, and we will fully respect China’s laws and regulations,” said the spokesperson, who declined to be named.
Eslite Spectrum is scheduled to open its first department store in Suzhou City, China, next year, following the launch of its first overseas department store in Hong Kong last year.
Last month, Eslite Spectrum president Mercy Wu (吳旻潔) said the company would maintain its plans to launch at least one store a year, and was eyeing the markets in Shanghai and Beijing.