Latest incident drives fear into high-spending Chinese tour groups
The tear-gassing and robbing of 40 Chinese tourists in Paris has caused shock and outrage in China, with calls on the French government to do better in protecting the safety of tourists.
The Chinese embassy in France on Saturday urged Chinese tourists to raise their vigilance and take precautions following the attack on the Chinese nationals, it said in a statement posted on its website.
A group of 40 Chinese tourists were attacked and robbed on Thursday by four men in the parking lot of the Kyriad Hotel in the Val-de-Marne suburb of Paris at about 8.20 p.m., local newspaper Le Parisien reported.
The assailants sprayed tear gas at the tourists just as they returned to the hotel from a tour in the French capital, stealing nine bags believed to be stuffed with luxury goods, the report said.
The tour group returned to China on Friday, media reported.
In the statement, the Chinese embassy said it had contacted French police to urge them to bring the perpetrators to justice as soon as possible.
This is the latest in a string of high-profile crimes against Chinese tourists in France in recent years. The reputation of Paris, one of the top destinations for Chinese travelers, has been marred by reports of attacks and muggings of deep-pocketed Chinese tourists. Many netizens have called on France to improve public security for tourists.
"This incident certainly will dent Chinese tourists' enthusiasm for visiting France," Ying Jianfeng, a manager at online travel platform Lvmama, told the Global Times.
In October, two Chinese tourists and their guide were hospitalized after being attacked inside a Parisian hotel by six masked assailants, during which the hotel's security staff did not step in, local media reported.
The Chinese embassy in Paris characterized the recent security situation in the French capital as "grim" in its statement, following a spate of attacks against Chinese tourists in the greater Paris region.
Although the attacks on tourists are not limited to Chinese visitors - similar tear-gas attacks have been reported at other suburban hotels - Ying said that Chinese tourists' strong purchasing power has made them an easy target of attacks.
"Also because the number of Chinese tourists traveling overseas has risen rapidly in recent years," he added.
Since 2012, China has become the biggest source of outgoing tourists, said Zhu Shanzhong, the executive director of the World Tourism Organization.
Chinese tourists made 122 million trips abroad in 2016, according to a report from online travel agent Ctrip and the China Tourism Academy. During this year's eight-day National Day holidays alone, more than 6 million Chinese traveled abroad.
However, the security situation in some European countries is unlikely to improve in the near future and may even deteriorate as some countries, including France, are suffering from an economic slowdown, which generates social problems such as low employment and welfare cuts, said Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Moreover, the flow of migrants into France poses a great challenge to the country's security, said Zhao.