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2017-12-19 09:20:24

A salad restaurant near a memorial to the victims of the Nanjing Massacre has covered its sign because the pronunciation of the shop’s name sounds like the Chinese word for “slaughter,” Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Sunday.

On Dec. 13, 1937, Japanese troops stormed the eastern city of Nanjing, then the capital of China, marking the beginning of six weeks of carnage. As the country commemorates the 80th anniversary of the invasion, emotions run high, especially in Nanjing itself, where a huge memorial hall pays tribute to the 300,000 victims that died, according to official Chinese histories.

The shop, Max & Salad, is just a few hundred meters from the Nanjing Massacre Memorial. Its sign shows both its English name and its Chinese name, Da Kai Sha Jie, which sounds like “open slaughter.” The Chinese word for “salad” is sha la, while the word “to kill” is sha.

On Dec. 8, a Nanjing resident posted a photo on microblogging platform Weibo, circling the signage of the shop, located just below three LED banners reading “Justice will prevail,” “Peace will prevail,” and “People will prevail,” — the closing quotes from Xi Jinping’s 2015 speech at the commemoration of 70th anniversary of China’s victory in the Second Sino-Japanese War.

“Why is such an unpleasant shop sign allowed in an atmosphere, time, and location like this? The Memorial Hall of the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre is just 200 meters away!!!” the Weibo user wrote, tagging several influential local media outlets.

A sign that sounds similar to the phrase ‘open slaughter’ is seen at the Max & Salad location near the Nanjing Massacre Memorial in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, December 2017. From Weibo

A sign that sounds similar to the phrase ‘open slaughter’ is seen at the Max & Salad location near the Nanjing Massacre Memorial in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, December 2017. From Weibo

The post soon gained attention online, with other netizens agreeing that it was an insult to the victims and an “offence to national sentiment” to see a restaurant with that name in such a sensitive location.

After receiving complaints, the Nanjing Jianye District Market Supervision Administration Bureau launched an investigation, according to The Paper. The bureau concluded on Dec. 9 that the shop’s name was registered and legal, but due to the location and timing, it ordered the business to cover or remove the Chinese sign.

The owners at the Max & Salad location said they immediately covered the sign as requested. “We are waiting for guidance from the market administration authorities regarding the next step for rectification, and we only hope this case won’t be sensationalized,” An Qiya, a co-founder of Max & Salad, told The Paper.

An explained that the company’s Chinese name means “to open a new world of salad,” and added that it is a registered trademark that was approved by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in 2016. She said this was the first time the restaurant chain had received such feedback.

Chen Binyin, a Shanghai-based lawyer who specializes in trademarks, told The Paper that the brand name itself is fine on its own, but not when put in context. According to China’s trademark law, trademarks must not be “detrimental to socialist morals or customs, or [have] other unhealthy influences.”

“The use of Da Kai Sha Jie might spark negative associations around the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall that would not apply to locations in Shanghai,” he commented.

Editor: Qian Jinghua.

(Header image: An exterior view of a Max & Salad restaurant. From the chain chain’s Weibo account)