French foreign minister casts doubt on Chinese police patrolling Paris

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2014, 3:56am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2014, 9:01am

The French government has poured cold water on reports that police officers from China will help patrol the streets of Paris to protect Chinese tourists.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters on the sidelines of a trip to Beijing his country had its own officers to protect Chinese visitors.

"Allowing Chinese police to patrol is not necessarily the best solution," he said.

Overseas media reports, quoting sources from the French interior ministry, said Paris was drafting a proposal to allow police from China to patrol the main tourist areas in Paris with their French colleagues.

Reuters said last week, citing an anonymous interior ministry source, that the details of the Chinese police officers' deployment had not been finalised, but they should arrive sometime in June.

Fabius did not directly comment on the reports, but said: "France has police to maintain safety and we will make efforts to let the tourists feel safe. The Chinese side also agrees with our views."

French police would step up patrols and the French interior ministry would set up a hotline staffed by Chinese-speakers for tourists, Fabius said. "So when Chinese tourists get into trouble and need help, they can call the hotline and be taken care of by someone who can speak their language," he said.

France receives about 1.4 million tourists from China each year and each visitor spends an average of about €1,500 (HK$15,700) per trip.

But a rise in robberies and assaults on Chinese tourists has raised concerns. Last March, a group of 23 Chinese tourists were robbed of €7,500 in cash, plane tickets and passports in a northern suburb of Paris.

Tourism analysts and travel agents said tourists from China were vulnerable to attack because they were often seen carrying large amounts of cash.