The Associated Press in France has reported on a new 65-page guide, “Chinese tourists: How best to welcome them?”, co-produced by France’s Tourism Ministry and its tourism promotion agency, which tells readers to “Avoid speaking about Chinese politics, for example: The events on Tiananmen Square, strategic questions of Taiwan or of Tibet”.

The guide has provoked criticism from French human rights and Tibet campaigners. Francis Perrin, a spokesman for Amnesty International in France, said that the French ministry’s advice was consistent with the softer approach that France and some other European Union governments have adopted toward China’s human rights record in recent years – while pursuing lucrative business contracts in China.

“Various governments, including France, use kid gloves to accommodate China on these extremely sensitive political questions,” Perrin said. But “nothing is won in the long-term by brushing key issues under the carpet.”

France’s Foreign Ministry distanced itself from the guide, saying in a statement to The Associated Press: “It is evident that this brochure does not in any way translate into a change of policy with regard to China.”