October 20, 2014
Chinese police to patrol the streets of Paris
Chinese police officers will join their French counterparts in patrolling some of Paris' main tourism spots this summer as France looks to encourage more visitors from the Asian nation to boost its revenues.
France welcomes some 1.4 million Chinese tourists each year and sees doubling that number as a way to slash its trade deficit by about 2 billion euros. Each Chinese visitor spends an average 1,500 euros per visit and local and Chinese media have carried reports that they have been targeted by muggers.
"The details on these Chinese police officers have not been finalised, but they should arrive some time in June," an interior ministry source said.
"It's more for the symbol than the policing."
Economic growth was flat in France last year and, while it is expected to gradually improve this year and next, President Francois Hollande's government sees boosting tourism and trade as a vital tool in cutting unemployment stuck above 10 percent.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has made enhancing economic ties with China one of his priorities and this weekend embarks on his eighth trip to Beijing since taking up his post in 2012.
He was handed in April the task of reducing the trade deficit, developing external business and enhancing tourism revenue as part of an expanded portfolio.
"Tourism is one of the sectors where we can create jobs," Fabius said in television interview late on Tuesday.
Chinese tourists are the second biggest group of visitors to France after Americans.
Fabius has already cut visa approval times for Chinese citizens to 48 hours, which has resulted in a 40 percent rise year on year in applications.
However, Chinese tourism associations complain that their citizens are increasingly targeted in Paris because of the belief they are more likely to carry cash than other tourists.
"Our policemen will ensure safety, but if there can be a psychological measure to help reinforce things then why not? They love France, but France must welcome them well," Fabius said.