France condemns attack on 6 Chinese wine-making students

PARIS (Reuters) - France's Interior Minister has condemned as racist an assault on six Chinese students by drunken locals in the Bordeaux wine-producing region that left one seriously injured.

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.

The assault in the village of Hostens, 50km south of Bordeaux, late last Friday came after one of the Chinese, who have been living in France for two months to study wine-making, complained about the noise a group of locals were making in the street.

One student in her 20s was rushed to hospital in Bordeaux after being struck in the face with a bottle when the locals tried to break into the students' house, local newspaper Sud Ouest reported. Two suspects have been arrested.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls' office issued a statement saying Mr Valls "condemns very severely this xenophobic act, for which perpetrators will have to face justice".

With France's domestic economy languishing in recession, French luxury groups are counting more heavily on Chinese tourists to purchase luxury goods and other local delicacies.

The Bordeaux region has also attracted many Chinese visitors and Chinese entrepreneurs have snapped up several dozen of the less illustrious chateaux, most of them in Bordeaux.

Responding to an European Union move to impose duties on Chinese solar panels, China launched an anti-dumping inquiry into European wine sales earlier this month, angering some French wine producers, who said they had been taken hostage by the Chinese government's threat.

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