Beijing on the Seine

For City JournalTheodore Dalrymple writes: The French newspaper, Libération, which began as a Maoist publication, waxed indignant recently about Chinese police working alongside French cops in Paris. The article began by reminding readers about a 1974 film, The Chinese in Paris, in which Mao’s army occupied the city, and the army commander, Pou-Yen, set up his headquarters in the Galeries Lafayette. What, asks Libération, are these policemen, who in their paris-chinaown country act as enforcers of a totalitarian dictatorship, doing in the pays des droits de l’homme—“the country of the rights of man,” as the French, with more patriotism than historical accuracy, sometimes call their homeland?

[Check out Dalrymple’s book: “Our Culture, What’s Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses” at Amazon.com]

About 1.5 million Chinese tourists visit Paris each year. The French government hopes to double or triple that number soon. For the moment, at least, most of the tourists pay with cash, which makes them inviting targets for robbers. About 120 bags are snatched daily at the pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre, many—if not most—from Chinese. And the Louvre is only one place they visit.

French-speaking Chinese police work alongside their French counterparts, according to the official explanation, so that Chinese victims of street crimes can explain what has happened to them. “These policemen act as a deterrent to thieves,” said an unnamed French source, “and are reassuring for Chinese travellers since they speak their language. They could, for example, advise them to conceal their telephones when they are visible.” And there are, after all, British, Dutch, and Romanian police seconded to Paris as well.

This argument does not convince Marie Holzman, president of an organization called China Solidarity. She thinks that the Chinese police are more likely to regard tourists as potential violators of Chinese law than as victims of French crime, and therefore to spy on them…(read more)

City Journal 

Theodore Dalrymple is a contributing editor of City Journal, the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and the author of many books, including “Our Culture, What’s Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses”


2 Comments on “Beijing on the Seine”

  1. […] Pundit from another Planet For City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple writes: The French newspaper, Libération, which began as a […]


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