It’s not a surprise but it’s sad nonetheless. On Friday, four Farine employees, including a French baker who started working with the company in December, were arrested. The official arrest statement from the Minhang District government can be read right here. Whether this is pre-trial detention or the build-up to something more serious is unclear, as is the nature and terms of their incarceration. Notably, Xin Xiangrong, who had previously identified himself as the lead Chinese partner in the chain, was one of the four arrested.
The way I’ve come to think of this whole thing is that there are two facts: one, Franck is in France and not coming back anytime soon (jail); two, the authorities have gone far and beyond what is reasonable for just expired flour, shutting down all Franck-related businesses. These two parties are the closest to the case and clearly know more about it than any of us. Given the extremes of their behavior, it suggests to me that they know something much bigger about it than any spectators and speculators. I can’t see the elephant but I think I can feel its contours in the dark.
I spent half a day yesterday trying to contact Pecol in France. The best I could get was a secondhand “he doesn’t want to be contacted.” I suppose that’s fair enough, but Franck, if you’re listening, the rumors in Shanghai are fast, furious and not very friendly, and if you’re looking for a platform to tell your side of the story, you know how to reach me. For the rest of us, well… Avec Toi on Tianping Lu has a great Farine-style baguette.