Police killing exposes anger, fear of Chinese in France

Chinese immigrants and China’s government are protesting a police killing in Paris that prompted violent street clashes and exposed the fears and frustrations of France’s large Asian community.

Protesters gathered Tuesday in northeast Paris for a second day of demonstrations over the fatal shooting of a Chinese man in his apartment, and police launched an internal investigation into a death that took on diplomatic implications.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had summoned a representative of the French embassy in Beijing Tuesday and urged French officials to "get to the bottom of the incident as soon as possible."

Chinese authorities "hope that Chinese nationals in France can express their wishes and demands in a reasonable way," Hua said.

Residents and police gave conflicting accounts of what happened before the man was shot to death by police on Sunday evening.

Police said an officer fired in self-defense during a raid after the man wounded an officer with a "bladed weapon." Rumors circulated among Chinese immigrants that 56-year-old Shaoyo Liu was in front of his children while cutting up fish with scissors and had not hurt anyone.

Protesters outraged by the killing and baton-wielding police clashed for several hours on Monday night. Three police officers were injured and 35 protesters arrested, authorities said Tuesday.

With chants of "murderers" and candles that spelled "opposition to violence" lining the road, scores of demonstrators broke down barricades, threw projectiles and set fire to cars.

Authorities said 26 demonstrators were held for participating in a group planning violence, six for throwing projectiles, and three others for violence against police that saw a police car damaged by arson.

Witnesses said that one man of Chinese origin was injured in the clashes, according to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency.

France’s Foreign Ministry responded Tuesday by calling the security of Chinese in France "a priority."

The ministry confirmed that an inquiry has started to shed light on the circumstances of the shooting.

The move did not calm some 100 people from Paris’ Asian community who gathered at the police station on Tuesday afternoon, including families and friends of people detained the night before.

"Justice must be done, the killer must be punished!" the protesters shouted.

A meeting of the Chinese community in Paris was planned to discuss possible further actions.

France is home to Europe’s largest population of ethnic Chinese, a community that routinely accuses police of not doing enough to protect it from racism.

In September, 15,000 people rallied in the French capital to urge an end to violence against the Asian community after the beating death of Chinese tailor Chaolin Zhangh called attention to ethnic tensions in Paris immigrant suburbs. The victim’s lawyer said the August 2016 attack was ethnically motivated.

"Chinese are victims of racist attitudes in France, especially from other ethnic groups," Pierre Picquart, an expert on China at the University of Paris VIII, said. "They are targets for crime because they often carry cash and many don’t have residence permits, so can be threatened easily. They’re angry with police for not protecting them enough."

"Chinese people do not like to protest or express themselves publicly, so when we see them like this, it means they are very, very angry. They’ve had enough of discrimination," Picquart added.

He estimated that there are 2 million people of Chinese origin living in France, a country with a population of about 66 million.

The recent killing and clashes came after thousands of people marched in Paris to condemn the alleged rape in February of a young black man by police.

The alleged incident in the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois turned the 22-year-old, identified only as Theo, into a symbol for minorities standing up to police violence.

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