The man was detained on Friday thanks to a description by one of his victims, police sources revealed Monday.
He is suspected of carrying out about 10 attacks on people of Asian origin in Belleville, an area with a relatively large number of Chinese and Vietnamese residents.
He waited for them in car parks in the evening, threatened them with a knife and demanded money, a police source told the AFP news agency.
The man was already known to the police, having been arrested for similar attacks in 2009.
In 2010 and 2011 thousands of people of Chinese origin demonstrated in Paris to protest at violence against their community.
“Violence is intolerable and it is not acceptable that you should be bothered by it,” Valls told crowds gathered for the Chinese new year parade on Sunday. “Security is everybody’s right and we will do whatever it takes to ensure you day-to-day protection, I promise.”