Chinese petition urges Paris to fight crime

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Oliver Gee - [email protected]
Chinese petition urges Paris to fight crime
Chinese tourists at the Eiffel Tower. Photo: AFP

A Chinese businessman whose suitcase was stolen at a Paris train station has written to the French prime minister to call for better security in the capital, while 50,000 Chinese people have signed a petition to help get the message across.


Fanchen Meng, a Paris-based consultant who helps French businesses tackle the Asian market, was left fuming in November after his suitcase was stolen at Montparnasse train station in the capital. 
Despite the abundant amount of security cameras in the area and two witness reports, police have still been unable to get anywhere with the case.
Irate at having lost his possessions, which included a large amount of cash, Meng penned a letter to France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls suggesting that it was time Paris shaped up and dealt with what he labelled "a crime that's become commonplace".
In the letter, which was published in full by Le Figaro newspaper, Meng lamented the inadequacy of the French police force in what he says should have been a "straightforward affair".
"These things can happen anywhere," he wrote.
"But the response to this incident is appalling for the image of the French state, where, evidently, the residents' right to fundamental security doesn't seem to be respected or adequately protected by the police."
Meng told the paper that he was still awaiting a response from the PM, but the voice of the Chinese visitors is growing stronger in the mean time. 
Over 50,000 people have signed a petition to raise awareness about their apparent lack of protection in Paris, a petition put together by the Association of Chinese Residents in France and backed by 40 groups representing Asian tourists and expats.
The petition will also be sent to Matignon, the official residence of the prime minister.

(Passengers at Montparnasse station in Paris, a hotspot for pickpockets and thieves. Photo: AFP)
Tamara Lui, the president of the Chinese-French integration association CFFC, said it's most often Chinese tourists - not residents - who are targeted by thieves in Paris. 
"Most of the victims are tourists who typically carry a lot of cash. And they make it quite obvious by flashing around their Louis Vuitton and Channel bags," she told The Local.
"No one has exact figures for how many people are targeted, as many of the victims don't go to the police station."
The Chinese embassy in Paris has taken the matter seriously too, going as far as warning its community last month to avoid the commuter RER trains after French thieves repeatedly targeted Chinese people on board.
The robbery of Chinese tourists has become run of the mill, said Lui, adding that the phenomenon used to have a knock-on effect for the Chinese community living in Paris - especially in immigrant-rich suburbs like Belleville in the city's east.
"Belleville used to see all kinds of violence towards the Chinese residents, but now there is a much bigger police presence. The Chinese community is very aware too, they don't carry cash or jewellery - I've hardly heard anything about the violent crimes for years now."
She said she doubted whether a petition would make any difference after reaching the desk of Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
"He can't do anything about it - even though it's so harmful to the image of Paris - the world capital for tourists," she told The Local.
"I don't know what can be done. We have already told the tourists plenty of times, but the crimes keep happening." 

(A passenger waits at the Paris RER Line to Château de Versailles. Photo: Carol Lin/Flickr)



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