[photopress:hotels_galeries_lafayette.JPG,full,alignright]First the news as generally reported: a China Tourism Association official suggested that Chinese tourists avoid shopping in the Paris-based Galeries Lafayette. (Not a bad idea in itself considering the prices.)
The official, who was, as is pretty invariably the case, unnamed, said the association was concerned about an incident where two Chinese tourists were treated insultingly while shopping in the famed French department store.
A newlywed couple from the eastern Zhejiang Province were accused of using a forged note while paying for a purchase at Lafayette. They were then taken to a police station where they were questioned and searched.
After a bank expert identified the note was real, the couple returned to the cashier who again refused the note and persisted with the claim that it was counterfeit.
The French department store then made a formal apology to the couple.
There are other views expressed in other media.
One, on the outer edges of reality, suggests it was political and happened because China is really furious over weapons that France wanted to sell Taiwan. The department store nonsense was China’s way of getting France’s attention.
True the timing was a bit odd. It was nearly two weeks after the incident — after the chief executive of Galeries Lafayette apologized to the couple — that the un-named official from the China Tourism Association said Chinese tourists should stop shopping at Galeries Lafayette, and instructed Chinese tour operators to stop taking them to the store.
It is a very long stretch to suggest that this incident is the result of recent talks between Taiwanese Defense Ministry officials and French arms dealers.
According to media reports in Taiwan it wants to buy Rafale fighter jets made by Dassault Systemes , eight mine-hunting vessels, air-to-surface missiles and other weapons from France. It does seem a most unlikely reaction.
Sources: China View and Forbes