France must take seriously the security of its Chinese residents
The killing of a Chinese man by police has highlighted the frustrations of a community complaining of discrimination and official indifference
The Chinese diaspora in France has long complained about the country’s police. They claim the state is not providing adequate protection and paying little heed to their complaints amid an upsurge in robberies and assaults. The shooting dead in a Paris suburb of a father of five children by an officer investigating a domestic dispute was therefore bound to spark outrage. But authorities need to do more than provide the security and inquiry called for by China and the demonstrators.
Frustration sparked two days of protests, with violence on the first leading to three officers being injured and 35 arrests. Greater understanding on both sides could have avoided the unrest. The circumstances that led to the killing are unclear, with the family of the dead man rejecting the account given by police. Such uncertainty makes a thorough investigation a necessity, as much for the family as for members of the Chinese community. There have been too many instances where the victims of crimes have been paid inadequate attention by officials.
The complaint has been much voiced over the past seven years, most loudly during a demonstration against racism and violence in Paris last September by 10,000 French-Chinese after a tailor died following a robbery and assault. The concerns were the same then as on Tuesday and during rallies in 2010 and 2011. China’s rise and an influx of mainland Chinese to work in the garment and fashion industry has given an impression that the estimated 600,000 ethnic Chinese citizens and more than two million annual visitors from China are wealthy. That has made them a target for criminals.
Some Chinese contend police are not providing them with the same protection against crime as for Caucasians. Proving such a claim is difficult given how high the state values equality, all people being considered French first and members of a minority second. But it is also true that racial discrimination is rife no matter what authorities may think and the government’s emphasis on French culture and language has made a policy of assimilation of migrants problematic. The latest death has to be a wake-up call for authorities.