Immigrant Voices

  • Share
  • Read Later

Pick up a bottle of Thai beer or Chinese soy sauce in France, and you'll probably see the words Tang Freres on the label. Born in Laos to Chinese parents, the Rattanavan brothers who run Tang Freres Bou and Bounmy arrived in France in 1975 after the fall of Saigon. They started an import-export business the following year and have now all but cornered the distribution market for Asian foodstuffs. Their wholesale and retail operations generate annual revenues of $150 million and employ 500 people. Keen Europeans, the Tangs are pinning their hopes on the euro and the standardization of banking rules to expand across the Continent."The problems [of integration into France] are mainly problems of communication. At first, the Chinese community made the mistake of remaining closed. They didn't communicate. But now there's a second generation that's been to school here, and it's opening up more. I think it would be a shame for my children to lose their Chinese culture. Europe needs young people with a dual culture. When you've known war and poverty, it makes you stronger. When you've got a strong sense of family, you want your kids to succeed. So you keep an eye on them and make sure they study hard. When parents attach importance to their children's studies and offer encouragement, the children can only succeed."