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Sarah Halzack

Starbucks Can’t Afford Any Slip-Ups In China

Its ambitious expansion there is on track but not roaring, and it faces challenges — including a feisty homegrown competitor.

Starbucks’s “second home market.”

Starbucks’s “second home market.”

Photographer: Zhang Peng/LightRocket

If you were worried that Starbucks Corp.’s Thursday earnings report would add to the gloomy picture that Apple Inc. recently painted of the Chinese consumer, you can relax.

The coffee giant said comparable sales grew 1 percent over a year earlier in China. It’s not exactly a roaring increase, but it’s the same pace of growth that Starbucks recorded on this measure in its previous quarter, so it shows the company hasn’t seen a sudden disturbance to its business there.