Chinese tourists warned not to illegally fly drones in France

Embassy tells visitors to abide by local laws after recent arrests

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 August, 2017, 10:22pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 August, 2017, 10:42pm

The Chinese embassy in France has warned visitors to be mindful of local laws after recent cases of tourists illegally flying drones at famous landmarks in the capital.

“A few Chinese tourists were recently arrested by French police and put under investigation for flying drones in Paris,” the embassy said in a statement posted online last week, without giving further details. “The embassy reminds all visiting Chinese nationals and residents in France to abide by local laws, and to travel in a civilised manner.”

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Flying drones in urban areas in France is illegal without approval from the police and civil aviation authorities – those who flout the law face a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a €75,000 (US$88,300) fine.

Last month, a Chinese tourist was prosecuted in Paris for flying a camera-equipped drone at the popular Notre Dame Cathedral and over a nearby police station.

The Chinese embassy in Paris could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs, have numerous applications – from photography to delivering parcels and even assessing conditions in disaster zones – and they are growing in popularity worldwide.

China is the biggest manufacturer, with more than 70 per cent of the world’s drones currently made in Shenzhen.

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The French authorities tightened security around the use of drones after a deadly terror attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015. More than a dozen unidentified drones were seen flying over the Eiffel Tower, Bastille Square and the US embassy building in the weeks that followed the attack, raising security fears.

Several tourists have fallen foul of the law. In 2014, a 24-year-old Israeli tourist was held for a night in a Paris police station and fined more than 300 for flying a camera-equipped drone over Notre Dame Cathedral.

The following year, an Al Jazeera journalist was fined €1,000 for flying a drone over central Paris.

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Meanwhile in China, there have been many reports of drones flying into restricted airspace, disrupting signals and causing temporary airport closures.

The number of cases of drones disrupting airports went from four in 2015 to 23 last year, according to data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

In an effort to control the situation, the administration introduced a new policy from June 1, requiring all Chinese pilots of recreational drones to register their names with the regulator.