Asian French

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Asians in France
Total population
Approximately 1 million (1.5% of the French population); it is illegal for the state to collect data on ethnicity and race.
Regions with significant populations
Throughout most major urban areas in France (Paris region, Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg, Lille, Nice, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes, etc.)
French, Asian languages
Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Chinese folk religion, Confucianism
Related ethnic groups
Asian peoples

Asians in France or Asian French are either foreign residents or French citizens of Asian origin living in France. French citizens of Asian descent primarily have ancestry from the former French colonies in Asia (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia) or China. Other Asian ethnic groups found in France include South Asians, Japanese and Koreans. Middle Easterners are often not considered Asian in France because of large differences in culture and ethnic composition from the rest of the Asian continent as well as racial relationships between the group and general French populace.[1]

By Country


The population of ethnic Khmers in France as of 2011 is estimated to be about 80,000, making the community one of the largest in the Cambodian diaspora.[2] The Cambodian population in France has had a presence in the country dating to well before the Vietnam War and subsequent Indochina refugee crisis, unlike counterpart communities in North America and Australia.

Early Cambodian immigration to France began in the latter half of the 19th century, when Cambodia became a French protectorate. The first migrants largely consisted of students and workers belonging to the country's elite class.[3] While most Cambodians arrived as refugees as a result of Indochina's heavy turmoil during the latter half of the 20th century, their large-scale arrival was later than other Indochinese immigrants. Although a few Cambodians were able to flee from the Khmer Rouge takeover in 1975 with French assistance, a much larger influx arrived in the 1980s following the regime collapse and end of the Cambodian Genocide.[4]


Chinese form the largest Asian group in France, with a population of roughly 600,000 as of 2010.[5]

The first Chinese migrants to France consisted of traders in the leather and Chinese ceramics trade originating from the Wenzhou region during the early 1900s.[6] During World War I, a few thousand Chinese laborers were recruited by the French Empire to help with war efforts in Metropolitan France, doing tasks such as working at munitions depots or ports and repairing railways and roads. A small number remained in France after the war ended, settling largely in the Chinese quarter of Paris established earlier by the Wenzhounese merchants, forming the basis of the Chinese community in France.[7] Chinese immigration to France continued as a trickle during the 1930s and 1940s, with some tradesmen and students arriving in the country, primarily to Paris.[8] A much larger inflow of ethnic Chinese arrived in France after the end of the Vietnam War and the heavy persecution of ethnic Chinese in Vietnam by the new communist government in 1975, along with a larger influx of immigrants from the Wenzhou region of China.[9]

The 13th arrondissement of Paris hosts Paris' Quartier Asiatique, the largest and most important community for the city's Asian population. While originally an ethnic Vietnamese quarter, Chinese have become the largest Asian and ethnic group in the neighborhood following the former community's assimilation into French society. The Belleville neighborhood of Paris also hosts an important Chinese community, as does the historical Chinese quarter founded by Wenzhounese merchants in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris.[10]






The number of ethnic Laotians in France is estimated to be between 100,000 and 200,000 as of 2017.[11] The Laotian community in France is the most established overseas Laotian community, having had a presence in the country since the late 19th century, when Laos became a French protectorate.[12]

Under French rule, a number of Laotian students and workers arrived in France, with some resettling permanently.[12] A much larger number of Laotians arrived in France following the end of the Laotian Civil War (a front of the greater Vietnam War) and the communist takeover of their homeland.[13] The Laotian community is highly integrated into French society, with high average rates of educational and economic achievement, especially among the generations of French-born Lao.[14][unreliable source?]


Sri Lankans


The Vietnamese form the most established Asian ethnic group in France, with a presence in the country dating back to the start of French colonialism in Vietnam in the latter half of the 19th century. As of 2012, the population of the community is estimated to be about 300,000, the second largest overseas Vietnamese population outside eastern Asia.[15]

During the colonial period, there was a significant representation of Vietnamese students in France, as well as professional and blue-collar workers, with a large number settling permanently. Following Vietnam's independence, a number of Vietnamese loyal to the colonial government also emigrated to France. However, the largest influx of Vietnamese people arrived in France as refugees after the Fall of Saigon and end of the Vietnam War in 1975.[16]

The Vietnamese community in France is the most successful among overseas Vietnamese communities, having a high level of both integration and success in academics and income. These achievements have led to French media and politicians regarding the French Vietnamese as a model minority.[17]


  1. ^ "La population étrangère résidant en France: Infos migrations" [The foreign population residing in France: Migration information] (in French). October 2009. Archived from the original on 27 November 2010. 
  2. ^ "Cambodge" [Cambodia] (PDF) (in French). The Franco-Cambodian Chamber of Commerce. September 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Pierre Montagnon, La France coloniale, tome 1, Pygmalion-Gérard Watelet, 1988
  4. ^ Gellately, Robert; Kiernan, Ben (2003). The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective. Cambridge University Press. 
  5. ^ Laurent, Annabelle (28 June 2010). "'Chinois de France' ne veut rien dire" ['Chinese of France' does not mean anything] (in French). French Slate. Retrieved 14 July 2017. 
  6. ^ "Le Quartier Chinois de Paris Arts-et-Métiers" [Paris Chinatown Arts and Crafts] (in French). Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Picquart, Pierre (2004). The Chinese Empire (L'Empire chinois) (in French). Favre S.A. ISBN 978-2-8289-0793-8. 
  8. ^ Roy, Anustup (7 September 2007). "Eviction rate of Chinese illegal immigrants in France on Rise". Network Europe. Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 1 November 2007. 
  9. ^ Straits Times, 18 September 1978, p. 2
  10. ^ Smith, Craig S. (10 May 2005). "Face behind Paris 'bistro' counter becomes Asian". International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 12 May 2005. 
  11. ^ "Présentation du Laos" [Presentation of Laos] (in French). France: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2017. 
  12. ^ a b Hahn 1999, p. 77
  13. ^ "Life in a foreign city can be difficult but Lao culture still prevails", Lao Voices, 7 January 2012, archived from the original on 2013-03-15, retrieved 2013-06-22 
  14. ^ La jeunesse lao de France, quelle identité? (in French)
  15. ^ Cochez, Pierre (2 May 2013). "Les français d'origine vietnamienne de retour à Saigon" [Vietnamese nationals return to Saigon]. La Croix (in French). Archived from the original on 16 June 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  16. ^ La Diaspora Vietnamienne en France un cas particulier (in French)
  17. ^ La diaspora vietnamienne (in French)
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