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Anger in China over attack on students in France

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
June 18, 2013 -- Updated 0110 GMT (0910 HKT)
French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll speaks with a Chinese embassy delegation on Sunday.
French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll speaks with a Chinese embassy delegation on Sunday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Six Chinese students were attacked by three drunk local residents, authorities say
  • One student suffered a serious injury after a bottle was thrown in her face
  • The Chinese embassy strongly condemns the attack
  • There are more than 30,000 Chinese students in French higher education

Hong Kong (CNN) -- A violent attack on a group of Chinese students in a small town in southwest France has prompted anger and condemnation in China.

During the assault Friday night in the town of Hostens, south of Bordeaux, one of the students suffered a serious injury after a glass bottle was thrown in her face, French authorities said.

In France to study the making of wine, the six students were at home when they were attacked by three local residents who were "visibly in an inebriated state," French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement Saturday.

He condemned the attack "with great severity," describing it as "xenophobic." Two of the suspected attackers have been questioned and taken into custody, he said.

The Chinese embassy in Paris on Sunday "strongly condemned" the attack, calling on French authorities to "bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure the safety of Chinese students in the country," the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

Users of the popular Chinese social media platform Weibo also expressed anger over the attack and concern about other Chinese students living overseas.

"Hope all students studying abroad take care of themselves and help each other," said somebody posting on Weibo under the username @Sunzhenming.

There are more than 30,000 Chinese students in the French higher education system, more than any other overseas nationality, according to the French foreign ministry.

The six who were attacked on Friday had been in France for two months and are due to study there for a year.

The seriously injured student, who is about 20 years old, has been transferred to a hospital in Bordeaux for treatment, Walls said.

The Chinese embassy has sent officials to Bordeaux to follow up on the situation and visit the injured students, Xinhua reported.

Some Chinese social media users speculated that the high-level response to the attack by authorities in Paris and Beijing was because the students are the children of senior Chinese officials.

"They must be sons or daughters of government officials, otherwise, how come they get so much attention?" asked @Moonyaohuihua.

The local French newspaper Sud Ouest reported Sunday that the young woman with the face injury is the daughter of a Chinese "dignitary."

The Chinese foreign ministry didn't immediately respond to a request Monday about her identity.

French media and Xinhua reported that the three local men had attacked the Chinese students because they believed the students had called police earlier in the evening to complain about noise they were making.

CNN's Feng Ke and David McKenzie, and journalist Audrey Shi in Beijing contributed to this report.

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