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China, France condemn ‘xenophobic’ attack

2013-06-17 09:12 Global Times Web Editor: Sun Tian

The Chinese embassy on Sunday strongly condemned an attack on six Chinese students in western France, demanding French authorities bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure the safety of Chinese students in the country.

The French interior minister Saturday described a violent attack against six Chinese exchange students as a "xenophobic act." Netizens have reacted with outrage, questioning whether Chinese people have increasingly become a target for violent crime when traveling or living overseas.

Three drunk local male residents attacked the students, who had arrived in France two months ago to study winemaking, late Friday night at the students' home in Hostens, Gironde, about 50 kilometers southwest of Bordeaux. One female student sustained serious facial injuries after a glass bottle was thrown at her.

Wu Xuemin, from the Chinese embassy in Paris, has traveled to the region with other staff to investigate the case and visit the injured student, China National Radio (CNR) reported.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement Saturday that the three attackers will be punished by law. The French government condemned the violence, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Citing the minister's remark, Wu Yikang, chairman of the Shanghai Institute of European Studies, told the Global Times that xenophobic feelings led by right-wing groups have been rising in France and across Europe in the past few years, in the context that the countries are stuck in a long-term recession.

"At a time when social problems, especially unemployment, are heightened and Chinese people are relatively rich and tend to show their wealth, they can become targets for hooligans," he said.

Local police had called on the three suspects that night due to rowdy behavior. The men then went to the students' home, perhaps thinking they were the source of the complaint, hurling "racist insults" at them, AFP reported.

Wu Jing, a female Chinese student in Bordeaux who has studied there for four years, told the Global Times that for a long time, she didn't dare go out at night as she and her friends believe that Chinese people may be targeted.

But Zhang Wenxiao, chairman of the Bordeaux Chinese scholars and students union, told CNR that it is an isolated incident. The students had no prior trouble with neighbors.

Stressing the attacks can be laid at the feet of the current Euro crisis, Wu Yikang said that European governments tend to use the statement of "xenophobic act" as an excuse to lift their responsibility from their societies' own social problems. "Their efforts on cracking down on xenophobic acts are indeed lacking," Wu said.

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