4 detained in beating of French man

Updated: 2013-06-19 07:47

By Wang Zhenghua in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Friction on the dance floor, rather than racism, is behind a physical conflict outside a bar in downtown Shanghai last week in which a French man suffered a head injury and bruises, police said on Tuesday.

In a telephone interview, a spokesman for the Shanghai Public Security Bureau said that four Chinese men have been detained in the alleged attack on the French man, identified only as Thomas, on the morning of June 10 outside the Shanghai bar No 88. Police are still searching for a fifth suspect.

"It's just a civil case caused by a dispute on the dance floor," the spokesman said. "It has nothing to do with racism or the recent attack of Chinese students in southwestern France."

The attack on Friday night in Hostens, a town in France's wine-producing Bordeaux region, left one 24-year-old female student with severe facial injuries after being attacked with a glass bottle.

France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls described the incident as an act of xenophobia, and it has elevated outrage and fears of Chinese people living, studying and traveling in France.

In the Shanghai incident, 25-year-old Thomas, who was traveling, had a physical conflict with the main suspect, surnamed Chen and also in his 20s, on the dance floor of the bar on Fumin Road, police said.

In retaliation, Chen summoned four friends and attacked Thomas outside the bar, police added.

But the incident generated concerns of racism because Thomas told the Shanghaiist, a popular portal for the expat community, in an interview that "nothing happened in the club. We were not drunk. We didn't see the guys before. It was just pure racism."

Shawn Kregan, a witness who recorded the attack with his mobile phone, told the Shanghaiist that Thomas and his girlfriend got into the taxi, when the suspects ran toward them and started beating him inside the taxi and proceeded to drag him out of it.

One of the guys was armed with a small knife and took a swipe at Thomas, but missed, Kregan added.

The attackers soon fled the scene, and the police arrived within 10 minutes. Police said they reacted fast, were fair and properly dealt with the incident.

Thomas was sent to the police station before being sent to a hospital in Xuhui district. He left China on Friday and could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

An official at the French consulate in Shanghai said on Tuesday that they learned about the attack from social network services, but didn't receive any reports from the victim.


(China Daily USA 06/19/2013 page4)