World Business: French Violets

President de Gaulle may seek to make his current interest in Southeast Asia appear Olympian, but the interest that many Frenchmen have in the area is down to earth—and economic. Though forced to leave the area as a major power a decade ago, France still holds at least a $375 million investment in her former Indo-Chinese empire, more than any other nation. The total may not seem great in the industrialized West, but in a backward region it constitutes a substantial influence.

Even in little Laos, two-thirds controlled by Communists, French investment still stands at $4,000,000. French interests in neighboring, neutralist Cambodia...

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