Chinese petition urges Paris to fight crime

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.

Chinese petition urges Paris to fight crime
Chinese tourists at the Eiffel Tower. Photo: AFP
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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Reader Question: Is it possible to fast-track French paperwork?

Whether it's waiting for an appointment or anxiously tracking the progress of your application, most foreigners in France have wondered at some point whether it is possible to fast-track their French paperwork.

Reader Question: Is it possible to fast-track French paperwork?

You might have heard of France’s ‘fast-track citizenship’ for over 1,000 foreign-born frontline workers during the height of the pandemic or perhaps stories of other EU countries that offer faster and simpler residency in exchange for investment.

You might even have seen companies offering to ‘speed up’ paperwork for you.

Unfortunately we’re here to tell you that there is no secret ‘fast lane’ where everything is dealt with speedily, even if you were willing to pay for it.

There are, however, some things that you can do to make sure your paperwork is dealt with as fast as possible.

Be sure you are applying in the correct category 

One sure way to encounter delays is to apply for the wrong thing, so it’s really worth taking the time to do your research in advance into the different types of residency cards and visas.

If you apply for a visa or residency card type that you’re not eligible for, it’s likely that your application will simply be rejected and you will have to start all over again.

We have a guide to the different visa types HERE.

Another way to save yourself an annual admin task is to go straight onto a multi-year visa, such as the ‘passeport talent‘ which lasts for four years.

You might think that this is only available to high earners, but there are several other situations in which you might qualify. For instance, researchers, artists and those with ‘international reputation’ can qualify too.

READ MORE: Talent passport: The little-known French visa that could make moving to France a lot easier

Have a complete dossier

This might seem obvious, but a common hang-up with French administrative processes is simply not having all of the correct documents – all residency and visa applications have a list of the required documents and you should make sure that you have everything that is needed ahead of either submitting your application or heading in for your appointment. 

The documents should be up-to-date (as recent as possible – usually best to aim for within the last month or two, though your specific procedure might specify a timeline). Each document should have the same full name and the same address listed.

Consistency is key – for example, if you are applying for a new titre de séjour and you bring in a copy of your proof of health insurance (Attestation de droits – assurance maladie), but the address listed is out of date, you could risk being turned away or told to come back.

Pay attention to the details too – if you need new identity card photos, the ones you took a year ago will likely be out of date (even if your appearance has not changed).

Always bring copies of your passport, current visa or residency permit, as well as any required paperwork. Most of the time, you’ll be asked to show proof of your current address – it does not hurt to have multiple ways of demonstrating this (eg a phone bill and an electricity bill).

Bringing the wrong documents, those with mismatched information, or missing key forms will prolong the process, as you will need to make a new appointment and start the process over again. Having your documents ready to go in an organised fashion can save you lots of time!

Go in person, if possible.

In France, it is often faster to do administrative processes in person. If you are worried about your French, consider asking a friend to come along.

If an in-person option is not available, then a phone call is your next best bet.

France is gradually putting more procedures online, but the old-fashioned way of speaking to a real person is almost always most efficient, especially if you have situation-specific questions. Surprisingly, your local tax office might be one of the most welcoming places to pop in and ask a question.

READ MORE: Reader question: How can I challenge my French tax bill?

Seek expert help if your situation is complex or irregular.

If your situation is out of the ordinary, you might want to consider legal or professional assistance to be sure you are following the correct path.

However, keep in mind that even with expert assistance, you will still need to file the documents yourself at the end of the day. A lawyer can help you be sure that your dossier is correctly filled out and prepared, but they cannot make French bureaucracy work faster, unfortunately.


We said there is no fast-track, but French citizenship is the exception (sort of).

If you’re applying through residency, French citizenship can normally be requested after five years, but the ‘period of residency’ requirement can be reduced to two years for those who successfully completed two years of study in a French institution of higher learning or if you have rendered “important services to France” (as was the case for the essential workers listed above).

If you marry a French citizen, you can apply for citizenship through marriage after four years of marriage.

And if you join the French Foreign Legion and are wounded on active service you can apply for citizenship before the minimum five year period – although this seems a slightly extreme way to avoid waiting times.

READ MORE: Am I eligible for French citizenship?

Once you have applied, there is unfortunately no way to fast-track the process, and the average time between submitting your application and being naturalised is 18 months to two years. 


But ultimately, it might be better to accept that French admin tasks usually take a long time – and processing times can vary quite dramatically between different areas.