Has recent anti-Asian racism fuelled a movement for the Asian diaspora in Europe to re-migrate to Asia or has this started before? What are the main reasons more and more second or third generation French people from Asian descent venture and settle in cities like Singapore, Shanghai, Hong-Kong and Ho-Chi-Minh?
In this talk with the Association of Young Chinese People in France (AJCF), Viviane Salin, founder of the podcast The Banana Split Project explores this phenomena, that she documented in her series of interviews.
Grégoire, born in France from Chinese parents who left Wenzhou in search of a better life, couldn't stand the daily casual racism he endured in Paris. Being called names, being mocked, were part of his daily experience. He grew a thick skin and even learnt self-defence to feel more confident, but the growing insecurity meant his wife and daughters were not safe. This prompted him to look for business opportunities in Singapore. His long-time Chinese French friend had already moved there and after visiting him for a week, he knew Singapore would be his new home. He now runs a frozen yoghurt franchise and feels relieved that he can fit in the majority and not stand out and be discriminated against. He also recalls that when he was in France, he felt more Chinese than French, and when spending a year in Shanghai, he was not considered Chinese there, so he said "I'm not totally French, I'm not really Chinese, so am I nothing?".
Stéphanie was born in France, she is of Chinese origin from Cambodia and she spent ten years in China, in two sequences, interspersed with a return to France. She experienced and discovered several facets of China and its culture, in Beijing, and especially in Shanghai and its region, where she worked for several years and where she lives today. During her travels and stays, she has alternately admired and rejected this plural, fascinating, complex and harsh China at the same time, and in doing so, she has shaped her own multicultural identity. She was first driven there by curiosity, the desire to experience Chinese life as she pictured it. But her harsh professional experience led her to think "never again China!". She went back to France, but after a few years, jumped on a career opportunity offered in Shanghai. She now knows who she is, she is proud of her origins and enjoys her complex identity. She feels at ease being herself in Shanghai.
Jérôme is a third generation French man: his paternal grandfather left China for the Reunion Island, then his father left for France (Paris), where Jérôme was born. After his studies, Jérôme went to Singapore for an internship, then headed for China where he ended up living for 11 years, in Shanghai. He then returned to Singapore, where he had been established for several years, with his Chinese wife and their children. As much as he felt French, he also knew he didn't fit any box, neither in France nor in China or Singapore. But he turns that to his advantage, as his colleagues and clients in Asia would relate with him more than with his White French colleagues.
When sharing these stories with the Association of Young Chinese People in France, Viviane and the host wanted to know more about their interests to leave France and live in Asia. 90% replied they already thought about it, and most are considering China or Singapore. The reasons invoked: work opportunities, lifestyle, security.