3 Charged in ‘Racist Attack’ on Chinese Students in France

Last week, six Chinese students were attacked by three local residents in Bordeaux, France. Zhang Yiwei at the Global Times reports:

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.

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. [Source]

The three have since been charged with aggravated violence, using or threatening to use arms, and drunkenness, according to local authorities, while the French Interior Minister issued a statement condemning the attack as “xenophobic”. From Michel Rose at Reuters:

The attack comes amid reports that wealthy Chinese tourists are being increasingly targeted by muggers in Paris. It will do little to ease tensions between France and China, locked in a trade dispute ranging from solar panels to wine.

[…] Interior Minister Manuel Valls’ office issued a statement saying Valls “condemns very severely this xenophobic act, for which perpetrators will have to face justice”.

Amid trade disputes between China and Europe on Chinese solar panels and European wine sales, this incident happened just one day before the world’s largest wine fair, Vinexpo, adding tension to the wine trade between France and China. From Jason Chow at The Wall Street Journal:

About half of China’s imported bottled wine came from France in 2012, with much of that from Bordeaux, France’s most important wine region. Bordeaux’s vineyards have been increasingly snapped up by wealthy Chinese investors, which has stirred emotions in the proud wine-growing area.

[…] As China grows increasingly infatuated with French wines, more young Chinese are enrolling in French schools to learn about the alcoholic beverage. Lu Qingqing, a 27-year-old native of China’s Hubei province recently completed her sommelier studies in southern France in Provence  and said there’s been a proliferation of wine programs geared towards Chinese students, especially in Bordeaux. While she didn’t encounter any racial tension herself during her nearly four years in France, she says that the Chinese presence can be a particularly touchy topic in Bordeaux. [Source]

As the head of the students’ school described a victim’s identity as “the daughter of a former mayor of a large city“, however, some weibo users revoked their sympathy for the students. From South China Morning Post:

The topic of politicians sending their children abroad to study provokes widespread resentment in China. It is rarely discussed by the tightly controlled press, which seldom comments on the family life of senior officials.

Still, some internet users speculated that the students were wealthy. “Those who can afford to study abroad are either the children of government officials or rich families,” one user said.

[…] Others reading English-language reports turned their anger on the students. “Even foreigners can’t bear with the migration of corrupt officials and are punishing them abroad. This is karma,” said a user. [Source]