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Bon App Accused of "Ignoring National Suffering" by Having "Former French Concession" Among Their Tags
By Mar 2, 2018 Dining
Location-based dinning app Bon App recently made headlines in local newspapers for using "colonial elements" in their restaurant listings, in the form of a tag/filter that reads "原法租界" (Former French Concession). Whoops.


According to, over 100 restaurants have been tagged with "原法租界" on Bon App. Although widely used by the expat population and even locals, the term is considered offensive and ignorant of "national suffering", seen by many Chinese as a complacent endorsement of Shanghai's colonial past. Bon App is now suspected of violating an "advertising law" that bans its use in a commercial context, potentially facing suspension and a 20,000rmb fine. The report also states that the violation only exists online, however. It's inappropriate but "not obvious", so there might be some leniency there. Anyhow, a public apology is expected.

This is not the first time media platforms and businesses have gotten in trouble for using the term "Former French Concession", which refers to a vast and busy area that sits within the Huangpu and Xuhui districts. Pizza Express was fined in 2012 for exactly that reason, and also got in hot water for it -- steaming, boiling, scalding hot water -- when the term was deployed as a tag/filter in our Housing section.

So yes. Let it be said now and forever: It's "Xuhui". (Or Luwan, whichever.)


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  • 9 months ago idasein

    This article fails to point out the real reason why BonApp and every foreigner calls it the French Concession: there is no Chinese name for this area!
    Xuhui is a massive, bizarrely shaped area sprawling all the way down to Minhang. The part that we now refer to as the French Concession is just a small corner of northeast Xuhui (people now don't call People's Square or the Bund the French Concession). The current districts were drawn to suit government purposes, and most of them have no relation to the character of particular neighborhoods. Nobody understands where the borders of these areas are because they’re random. Saying a restaurant is in Xuhui is meaningless. It could be in center of the city or the suburbs.
    For Jing’An at least, the borders define an actual neighborhood. That’s why nobody calls Jing’an “the Former International Concession”. If they want us to drop the Western imperialist name, give us a Chinese name to call it!
    “The area that shall not be named” is a bit long. I’ll stick with the French Concession in English. In Chinese, I guess “Dongbei Xuhui” (northeast Xuhui) will have to do.

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