PARIS — Amidst prickly relations between France and China over Tibet and the upcoming Beijing Olympics, Louis Vuitton has postponed its high-profile “China Run” car rally scheduled for May 25 to 31 between Chengdu and Kunming.
A Vuitton spokeswoman said Friday a new date has yet to be fixed and declined further comment.
Participants in the rally, who were to include Fiat heir Lapo Elkann, were informed of the change last week. It is understood Chinese authorities and organizers also support a postponement to ensure a successful, high-quality event at a later date, possibly in a year or two. Vuitton last staged a China rally in 1998.
Vuitton executives, sponsors and Chinese officials trumpeted the race at a press conference here last month, describing a run likely to attract millions of Chinese spectators eager to catch a glimpse of 45 vintage cars worth north of $125 million.
But disruptions to the Olympic torch rally in Paris and statements of support for the Dalai Lama by French politicians have fueled anti-French sentiments in China, leading to protests at Carrefour stores, calls for boycotts and steps by the Chinese government to quell rising nationalist fervor.
Executives from Carrefour and Vuitton parent LVMH Mo??t Hennessy Louis Vuitton have categorically denied any funding link to the Dalai Lama or any interference in China’s politics. Neither company has yet to report any significant impact on their business in China.
Separately on Friday, Carrefour said it would cancel a promotional campaign slated to launch in China on May 1, the day protesters have called for a strike against its stores. The hypermarket operator has been one of the main targets of anti-French sentiment.