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Paris students assist police with Asian visitors

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Paris students assist police with Asian visitors
Chinese tourists take souvenir pictures in front of of the Eiffel Tower. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP
15:21 CEST+02:00
Police in Paris have enlisted the help of students studying Chinese, Japanese and Korean to warn Asian tourists about the ever-present scams and street crime.

Seventeen students from the National Institute of Oriental Languages (Inalco) are currently assisting the French police in Paris's 8th arrondissement by offering advice to passing tourists.  

The students, who are fluent in Japanese, Korean and Chinese, will be helping police until the end of the month as part of a summer internship, Le Parisien reported

According to the paper, the students have been warning tourists about how to avoid being targeted by thieves such as keeping cash safely hidden and their bags securely closed.

The students also warn them against common scams in the city such as fake charity petitions and the ‘game' Bonneteau, a scam which typically involves three cups and a pea.

READ MORE: Top give street scams to avoid in Paris

According to Sonia, a Master's student in Japanese at the Institute, they can also help police to solve crimes.

“It allows victims to be more precise in their statement about what happened to them and in their description of people,” she said.

“These students really are making contact much easier with a population that rarely speaks English, notably Chinese and Japanese,” Deputy Commissioner of the 8th arrondissement police, Vincent Messager, told the paper.

Messager would like to see students who can speak other languages join the scheme.

"This will depend on possible partnerships with institutes of languages and the availability of students," he said.

Chinese nationals are often targeted by thieves in Paris, In April, 50,000 members of the city's Asian community signed a petition calling for better security for Chinese visitors when they come to the French capital.
 
"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," Tamara Lui, the president of the Chinese-French integration association CFFC, told The Local at the time. 
 
Chinese petition urges Paris to fight crime
 
"No one has exact figures for how many people are targeted, as many of the victims don't go to the police station."
 
France has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of Chinese visitors in recent years.

According to figures released by the Foreign Ministry, which is in charge of tourism, 2014 saw a notable increase in tourist numbers, with the biggest boost coming from the Asian market, with an extra 16 percent visiting the country.

Meanwhile the number of visits by Europeans dropped by 1.7 percent that year.

The surge in Chinese visitors was largely thanks to the new fast-track 48-hour visa for Chinese travellers, which was introduced last January. The move saw a 61-percent increase in French visas given to Chinese nationals in 2014. 

This year's figures are also looking promising, with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announcing on Thursday that he expected 2015's tourist numbers to exceed 85 million.

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