The Chinese government is sending police resources to France to help combat a rising wave of muggings and assorted attacks on tourists.
The Agence France-Presse reports that an uptick in Chinese tourists to Paris has created a corresponding increase in the number of attacks on tourists. In one particular incident, 23 Chinese citizens were robbed collectively at a restaurant. The government-run China.org announced the news, noting that the move was at the behest of the French government–French Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve announced that the Chinese visitors were invited to participate in the work.
The Daily Mail notes that muggings and aggressive begging are also a problem, particularly on behalf of the Roma people who inhabit the capital, whose criminal population consider Chinese tourists easier targets. More than one million Chinese tourists are believed to visit France per year, and Xinhua predicts a 40% increase in that number in 2014, as France plans to expand its visa provisions to allow more visitors.
The move was welcomed by both governments, and follows warnings from major French businesses that Chinese commerce is vital to the French economy and could slip should the Chinese reduce their tourism to the country. According to France24, “a group of 75 French luxury brands including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Hermes warned in 2013 that Chinese tourists, the world’s top spenders, might start going to London or Milan instead as they view Paris as dangerous.”
While the specifics of the new Chinese patrols remain to be agreed upon, the Chinese government is set to send ten Chinese policemen to France. According to Xinhua, the policemen will not only patrol for crime, but “also serve as interpreters when Chinese tourists need to communicate with local police.”
President Xi Jinping has been working to strengthen ties with France, visiting the nation in March and establishing new trade provisions. At a forum during that visit, Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng called for further dialogue between the two nations to expand trade, and noted that “China is ready to import more French products” in exchange for France to maintain its demand for Chinese products. The French government appeared open to some negotiations and expansion of reform.