China / Education

Subway assault in Paris stirs criticism

By China Daily (China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-14 08:18

A university professor in France says misunderstandings about Chinese people may have contributed to an incident in Paris in which a female exchange student was accosted twice at a subway station, inciting netizen criticism of French behavior.

The Chinese student said she encountered two women who humiliated her and a friend with words and gestures on the night of April 7, and attacked her the following day. She shared the experience on her Sina Weibo account as a warning to other travelers.

Pierre Piccard, a China expert at University de Paris VIII, told Legal Evening News that the incidents may have been triggered by current economic and social conditions in France.

"France has become an object of terrorist attacks, which makes some French repulse foreigners. Moreover, since economic conditions in France, and even in the whole of Europe, are not that positive, many French think foreigners coming to France make their incomes and businesses worse," Piccard said.

Piccard also said some French people have misunderstandings about Chinese people because, in the past, some poor Chinese went to France, which made the French view them in a biased way. Then, in the 1980s, many Chinese people made a significant amount of money doing business in France, which made some locals blame them for their worsening life, he said.

The Chinese student, who was not identified, said two French people came to her aid during the incidents. One middle-aged French woman intervened when she was being screamed at, punched in the face and kicked. The woman, who helped, drew away the attacker and persuaded her and her friends to stop the assault, and offered to take the student to the police station to file a complaint.

Other passengers at the station did not help and would not even tell her the phone number of the police when asked, the Chinese student said.

She said she tried to take photos of the attackers with her mobile phone when they got off the train, but a man snatched her phone. A middle-aged man heard the student's screams and retrieved the phone.

The student's post describing her experience had received 11,400 reposts and 5,755 comments by Wednesday.

A Chinese student surnamed Li, who studies at University Pantheon-Assas, wrote: "I heard some Chinese were humiliated in France, but most French people are kind."

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