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Protesters confront American outside French store in China
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    BEIJING — European business officials warned Wednesday that anti-French protests in China could spark a backlash against Chinese exports, while reports surfaced that protesters had confronted an American outside an outlet of French retailer Carrefour.
    The incident with the American occurred when dozens of protesters confronted 22-year-old James Galvin, an English teacher working in the southern city of Zhuzhou, mistakenly thinking he might have been French.
    Galvin was quickly whisked away by police and was not hurt in the Sunday incident, said Helen Claire Sievers, executive director of the WorldTeach program based in Cambridge, Mass.
    ‘‘It was frightening for him because he didn’t know what was going on,’’ Sievers said.
    France and high-profile French retailer Carrefour have been targeted by Chinese nationalists who felt insulted by raucous anti-China protests that accompanied the April 7 Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay.
    Anger spiked this past weekend with protests at the French Embassy in Beijing and at Carrefour outlets in at least nine Chinese cities. Carrefour has denied rumors that it supports the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled Buddhist leader.
    Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said a boycott of French products, as some activists are calling for, would likely hurt Chinese workers and companies, and could be met by similar action against Chinese products in Europe.
    ‘‘This kind of thing is a slippery slope downhill. Once you start talking about boycotts, there will always be retaliation on the other side. Where do you stop?’’ Wuttke told reporters in Beijing.
    Calls to boycott French products and picket outside Carrefour outlets have circulated mainly on Internet message boards, a realm dominated by college students and young urban Chinese.
    Following the incident with the American teacher, the WorldTeach program is urging that its teachers to avoid places that could attract protests.
    ‘‘We’ve told our other teachers in China to stay away if there appears to be any demonstrations of any kind, and to stay away from foreign stores, in particular French stores,’’ Sievers said.
    Galvin, from Plymouth, Conn., is a 2007 graduate of Boston College on a yearlong assignment to the Shida Fuzhong school in Zhuzhou, where he teaches English to seventh- through 12th graders. He took Monday off but was back teaching Tuesday, said Eric Weiss, director of WorldTeach’s China program.
    A Shida Fuzhong administrator, Huang Guihua, said the school was now following a city government directive to assign a Chinese staff member to accompany its two foreign teachers whenever they left campus.
    China’s government has tried to lower tensions in recent days, and official newspapers on Wednesday noted that 95 percent of the products sold by Carrefour in China are produced domestically, and that it directly employs 40,000 Chinese.
    ‘‘European supermarkets in China mainly sell Chinese products and mainly employ Chinese people. This is worth bearing in mind,’’ said Michael O’Sullivan, secretary general of the EU chamber.
    Despite a softer tone, however, the government also reasserted its hard line against the Dalai Lama, whose supporters are accused by Beijing of instigating deadly riots in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, on March 14.
    The state-controlled China Daily newspaper ran a front-page story Wednesday labeling a move by the Paris city council on Monday to bestow the title of ‘‘honorary citizen’’ on the Dalai Lama as a ‘‘severe provocation.’’
    ‘‘Paris has recently made a series of hostile gestures toward China,’’ the newspaper said.
    Beijing has labeled the Lhasa riot and related protests in Tibetan areas an attempt to split the region from China and to sabotage the Beijing Olympics.
    Associated Press writers Joe McDonald and Anita Chang in Beijing and Mark Pratt in Boston contributed to this report.

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