French ambassador admits to concern over crime against Chinese tourists

Ambassador says plan to bring in police from China amid crimewave still being considered

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 July, 2014, 10:36pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 July, 2014, 10:36pm

French authorities are discussing ways to better protect cash-rich Chinese tourists from robbers, but Chinese police will not be patrolling Paris just yet - at least not this year - the French ambassador to China said.

Sylvie Bermann was responding to media reports that rampant muggings and thefts targeting tourists from China have prompted the French police to consider inviting their Chinese counterparts to help ease the situation.

"We have been discussing many ways to facilitate the tourists ... to lodge their complaints in Chinese," Bermann said in Hong Kong this week.

"It [bringing in Chinese police officers] is still under consideration, but probably not this year. It's not decided so far; we are still discussing the best means."

France has become a favourite holiday destination for well-heeled Chinese. Last year, the country welcomed 1.6 million Chinese tourists, a 14 per cent jump from 1.4 million in 2012.

But complaints about street crimes targeting Chinese tourists have not only prompted concerns in China but have occasionally strained diplomatic ties.

Last June, six Chinese students were violently attacked while attending a wine-making school near Bordeaux, stirring anti-French sentiment in China.

"One of the biggest problems is that generally the Chinese tourists carry cash, and pickpockets know that," said Bermann.

Bermann was visiting Hong Kong before concluding her 31/2-year tenure as ambassador next month.

While in the city, she held meetings on its political debate.

"What we want for Hong Kong is stability, and we are in favour of universal suffrage ... but there has to be compromise between China and Hong Kong," she said, while not elaborating on what the compromise could be.