We explore the economic impact of boycotts of French automobiles in China during the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Conditions were favorable for a boycott, enabling Chinese consumers to overcome the collective action problems that can prevent boycott success and other voluntary contributions to public goods. We use brand and model level data in a difference-in-difference specification to investigate the boycotts’ effects on sales. A robust pattern of large impacts emerges: sales of French automobile brands fell 25-33% or more. Consumers substituted mostly toward Chinese and other Asian cars. The sales of the French models did not experience similar relative sales declines in countries other than China—triple-difference estimates point toward even larger relative loss of market share in China. Our results provide evidence that commerce can be used as an effective political weapon.
Prieger, James; Hu, Wei-Min; Hong, Canhui; and Zhu, Dongming, "French Automobiles and the Chinese Boycotts of 2008: Politics Really Does Affect Commerce" (2010). Pepperdine University, School of Public Policy Working Papers. Paper 5.