Aubervilliers is a bustling suburb of Paris known for its small and medium-sized enterprises. Among its predominantly Arab and African population are 4,000 Chinese, more than a quarter (1,200) of whom are traders prominent in Aubervilliers’s textile industry (Daily Mail, May 10, 2015). In recent years, the Chinese have achieved impressive economic success, making them a prime target for local criminals. According to the Franco-Chinese Friendship Association, more than one hundred Chinese have been attacked and robbed in Aubervilliers since December 27, 2015 (Shenzhen Daily, August 24).
While walking with a friend on August 7, 2016, Zhang Chaolin, a textile designer and a father of two, was viciously beaten by three thieves. After five days in a coma, Zhang passed away as the latest casualty in Aubervilliers’s crime epidemic (RFI, August 15). The attack struck a chord with the local Chinese community, resulting in a street demonstration against targeted attacks on the area’s Chinese residents.