A young Chinese woman in a wheelchair who became a national hero for defending the Olympic torch from a pro-Tibet protester in Paris was invited on Monday by the French president to visit his country again.
Anger has been spreading in China over the Olympic torch relay protests, which many see as an insult to national pride, and there have recently been several anti-West protests, including some over the weekend directed at French supermarket chain Carrefour. Jin Jing has been called the “smiling angel in a wheelchair” in China after protecting the torch while a Tibet supporter tried to wrestle it away from her during the relay in Paris earlier this month.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s invitation was delivered in a letter presented to Jin on Monday by French Senate president Christian Poncelet.
The letter “expressed the French people’s sympathy for the young woman,” said Agnes Humuzian, a spokeswoman for the French consulate in Shanghai.
No date has been set for the visit, she said. Poncelet made a special trip to meet Jin as soon as he arrived in Shanghai for a week-long China visit.
The 28-year-old, who lost her right leg to cancer as a child, confirmed that the brief meeting at the Shanghai Handicapped Sports Training Centre took place but had no comment.
Chinese anger also has been aimed at Western media organisations, including CNN, for so-called “distorted” coverage of the recent unrest in Tibet.