Chinese consumers are being urged to boycott French retailer Carrefour in response to the protests staged during the Olympic torch relay in Paris.

Calls to boycott the retailer’s stores from 1 May have been posted on Chinese websites and sent out in text messages and instant messaging services like MSN.

Messages say: “Unite in a boycott of Carrefour. Don’t go to their stores after 1 May.” They accuse Carrefour of backing Tibetan independence and funding the Dalai Lama.

The company has issued a statement stressing its full support for the Olympic Games. The company added that it “never takes a position on political subjects”.

“The information circulating on the Internet that Carrefour is playing a role in China’s internal politics or international relations is false and without foundation,” the company said.

Carrefour China could not be reached to comment on the boycott and whether publicity was affecting business. According to state media Xinhua, a survey posted on popular portal found 95.4% of almost 44,000 respondents in favour of a boycott of French goods.

Carrefour said 80% of the goods sold in its 122 supermarkets and 280 discount stores in China are Chinese.  

Chinese anger has been fuelled by widespread media coverage of a Paris protestor trying to grab the Olympic torch out of the hands of wheelchair-bound torch bearer Jin Jing last week.