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Protesters take to the streets for a second night over police killing of Chinese man

Alcyone Wemaëre | Protesters outside the Hotel de Ville on March 29, 2017

A late-night protest broke out in central Paris over the police killing of a Chinese man in a raid at his home.

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Around 200 mostly Asian protesters pulled barricades across the central Rivoli street late Wednesday, crying out “police, assassins” and tossing projectiles at riot officers. There were no arrests and no serious injuries.

The Asian community has been protesting the death of 56-year-old Shaoyo Liu since Monday.

Police called to Liu’s building over reports of a man with a knife broke down the door of his apartment and shot him to death. Police say he attacked an officer with scissors. His daughter disputes the account, and says he was merely cooking when the family heard pounding on the door. The family has appealed for calm.

China Reacts

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".

Beijing calls on Paris to "guarantee the safety and legal rights and interests of Chinese citizens in France and to treat the reaction of Chinese people to this incident in a rational way", Chunying told a press briefing.

"Meanwhile, we hope that our citizens... in France can express their wishes and demands in a lawful and reasonable way," the spokeswoman added.

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 demonstrators who gathered in central Paris on Wednesday, 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.

A large but discreet community

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 to death of Chinese tailor Chaolin Zhang drew attention to ethnic tensions in Paris’s immigrant-rich suburbs.

"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, told AP. "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."

Picquart stressed that it was unusual for the community, known for its discretion, to protest so vigorously.

"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," he added.

The expert 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 22-year-old black man by police.

The alleged incident in the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois cast a new spotlight on the festering issue of police brutality towards members of France’s visible minorities.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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