PARIS — Chinese police will start patrolling popular tourist destinations in Paris this summer in a bid to safeguard Chinese tourists visiting the French capital city, according to various media reports.
The French government apparently invited Chinese authorities to patrol the city, an ever-increasing destination for Chinese citizens, following increased reports of attacks targeting the country’s citizens, media reports suggest.
More than 1.4 million Chinese residents visited France in 2012, and that number is predicted to push 4 million by 2020, according to The New York Times. In 2012, Chinese tourists spent $102 billion abroad, according to a Boston.com report.
That growing number of Chinese tourists flocking to Paris and France by the busload, along with their wallets, clearly prompted French authorities to make the request.
In the first quarter of 2013, petty crimes against Chinese tourists jumped 22 percent over a year earlier, Reuters previously reported. Crime against tourists, especially visitors from China, readily captures headlines as it did in March 2013 when 23 Chinese tourists were robbed after arriving in the city.
“For us, Paris has replaced Rome in the table of cities where you have to pay the most attention,” The Guardian last week quoted Tang Lu of the Chinese Tourist Agency in Paris as telling Le Parisien. “We are hearing about this kind of attack on Chinese visitors more and more often.”
While the decision to allow Chinese authorities to patrol Paris streets garnered many headlines in Europe and across the globe this past week, crime isn’t a new problem to Paris. Just about every major tourist attraction in the city, including churches, museums and the famous Eiffel Tower, prominently feature signs urging tourists to beware of pickpockets.
Staffers at the Lourve went on strike in April 2013 over concerns about pickpockets, forcing one of the world’s most popular museums to shut down for a day. Last year, for example, Paris authorities dispatched hundreds of police to guard the city’s major tourist monuments “because of an influx of criminal gangs from eastern Europe,” the Daily Mail reported at the time.