A woman picks out Tingyi instant noodles at a supermarket in Jinhua, Zhejiang province. (File photo/Xinhua)
Master Kong, a leading instant noodle and beverage brand in China, has become the latest target of anti-Japanese sentiment on account of the territorial dispute between the two countries.
While most people in China think of Master Kong as a Chinese or Taiwanese brand, recent reports of its parent company Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding Corporation — which was set up by Taiwanese entrepreneurs and is listed in Hong Kong — having a Japanese investor have caused an uproar among China's public.
Tingyi previously issued a statement to stress that Master Kong is a Chinese brand, rebutting claims made by some protesters at rallies held across China in September suggesting it is a Japanese company.
The boycott of Japanese products by many Chinese consumers triggered by the dispute over the Diaoyutai (Diaoyu or Senkaku) islands in the East China Sea has led to many Japanese businesses suspending their operations in China.
According to several media reports in China, the Wei brothers, the Taiwanese founders of Tingyi, sold part of their stake in the company to Japan's Sanyo Foods in 1999 when the company was running at a loss.
The company soon became profitable following the Japanese investment, the reports said, adding that Sanyo now has a 33.18% stake in the holding company. The current value of Tingyi currently stands at around HK$135 billion (US$17.4 billion).
The company's annual report in 2011 also showed that around half of the directors on the board were of Japanese origin, including Sanyo founder Takeshi Ida.
The number of Japanese non-executive directors present on the board surpassed Taiwanese or Chinese board members, the reports said.