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Chinese police to patrol in Paris to help tourists

Updated: 2014-05-08 02:19
By ZHANG YAN in Beijing and LI XIANG in Paris ( China Daily)

Chinese police officers are expected to assist their counterparts in France on patrols following recent attacks targeting Chinese tourists in Paris, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

"We are in discussions with the French Interior Ministry and will release more details about the arrangement later," said a senior officer from the ministry's international cooperation bureau, who did not want to be named.

It would be the first time that Chinese police have appeared on streets abroad to help local officers combat crimes targeting Chinese tourists, he said.

The unprecedented deployment, mostly in Paris, would include eight to 10 Chinese officers who are proficient in French. They will conduct joint patrols with their French counterparts and help to communicate with Chinese tourists who need assistance, he said.

Teams of two or three Chinese and French officers will also be used to step up patrols at tourist attractions including the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine, the officer said.

"Once we receive reports or complaints about Chinese tourists being harmed, including theft and robbery, we will rush to the scene and assist French police in dealing with them. That includes helping with communication such as translation," he said.

Details on the length of deployment and what the Chinese officers will wear have still to be finalized, but they will not be armed and will have no law enforcement powers in France, the officer added.

The French Interior Ministry declined to comment on the deployment of Chinese officers when contacted by China Daily on Wednesday.

But according to an earlier report by The European Times, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told the media, "In order to welcome lots of Chinese tourists, apart from enhancing patrols at scenic spots and on public transportation, French police will conduct joint patrols with their Chinese partners starting this summer.

"The main duties for Chinese police include being on duty at tourist attractions in Paris, providing interpretation services for Chinese tourists, or helping them to communicate with Paris police," Cazeneuve was reported as saying.

Wu Xiaojun, a press officer at the Chinese embassy in Paris, said negotiations between the two countries on the arrangement were at an advanced stage.

In March last year, 23 Chinese tourists were robbed after dinner in downtown Paris, Xinhua News Agency reported. The group's leader suffered facial injuries and the tourists had their passports, air tickets and cash stolen.

France is one of the most popular overseas destinations for a growing number of Chinese visitors.

About 100 million Chinese tourists traveled abroad from 2010 to 2013, double the number for the previous three years, figures from the International Travel Association show.

Last year, 1.5 million Chinese tourists visited France and spent $798 million there, according to the association.

Early this year, after the French authorities offered services in Beijing to help Chinese visitors apply for French visas, the number of tourists bound for France increased by 40 percent, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

Dai Peng, a professor at People's Public Security University of China, said Chinese tourists usually carry a lot of cash to buy luxury goods and do not pay much attention to safeguarding their personal property, which can make them easy targets for theft and robbery.

"The introduction of the joint patrols can effectively crack down on crimes targeting Chinese tourists," Dai said.

Chen Jidong, a 36-year-old from Beijing traveling in Paris, said, "The presence of Chinese police officers in Paris will not only make us feel safer but also make France a more attractive destination."

Contact the writers at zhangyan1@chinadaily.com.cn and lixiang@chinadaily.com.cn