Traditional values and wifely qualities, often associated with Asian women, do not rank very high on a Parisian man's list.
     Even words used in the press take after the stereotyped American expressions that describe Asia and Asians in the United States. Examples include "peril jaune" (yellow peril), "invasion jaune", "communaute modele" (model community). The coloquial "fievre jaune", which literally translates to yellow fever, has a meaning quite different from its American counterpart. It denotes anti-Asian feeling or Asia-bashing instead of lust for Asians.
     I know of no French equivalent of yellow fever. This may be because the phenomenon of Caucasian men fixated on Asian women is not as common here as in the States. I have met Frenchmen who like Asian women, but non are fixated. For one thing French males do not reject their women in favor of a stereotyped image of an exotic mate. The relationship between the sexes in France is less one of submission or conflict as in the United States, but rather one of complicity. Many French women, for example, enjoy being objects of male desire. I have never heard a French woman complain about female nudity -- and there is plenty of it in advertisements, on television and in the movies. At the same time they do not feel the need to curb their professional ambition or hide their intelligence and talent. Actually, intelligence, talent and ambition are part of a woman's appeal in Paris. French women attain levels of prominence unequaled in the United States, a country with a population four times that of France. Former prime minister Edith Cresson and world-renown physicist Marie Curie, for example, have had no American counterparts.
     Traditional values and wifely qualities, often associated with Asian women, do not rank very high on a Parisian man's list. Instead, it is very much in the French mentality to gripe, protest and contradict; thus, liveliness and some degree of capriciousness in a woman are even appreciated.
     Furthermore, there seems to be more tolerance of, and interest in, different cultures in Paris. While it is true that Asians -- men and women -- are popular, so are Africans and Latin Americans.
     Any negative image of Asians is found less in public opinion than in the media. French journalists don't have the concern for objectivity and fairness as those in the U.S. Except for Le Monde, a respectable but somewhat dry daily, French publications carry stories that reflect the slant of their writers and their editorial board. to an American reader, French articles often seem inflammatory.
     L'Express, a right-of-center weekly, published several articles last year -- one of which was headlined "Comment Le Japon nous envahit" (How Japan invades us) -- on the economic and scientific hold Japan supposedly enjoys over France. The articles were accompanied by a full-page illustration of a kimonoed Japanese pressing a sword against the necks of two French businessmen. The popular left-of-center magazine L'Evenement du Jeudi published a headline asking, "Oui ou non, les tours du 13e cachentelles une mafia chinoise?" (Yes or no, are the towers of the 13th Arrondissement hiding a Chinese mafia?)

The Cambodian Pavilion at Cité Universitaire, a collection of dormitories built in a variety of international styles, displays traditional Cambodian architectural decorations like the monkey statue by the entrance.

     Surprisingly, the worst images of Asians, or at least the most exaggerated, are propagated by people who specialize in Asian studies or who have worked closely with the communities. Consider the example of Marie Holzman, a writer who has lived three years in Japan and five years in China and speaks both languages fluently. In her book Asia in Paris, Holzman explained the low death rate in Paris's first Chinatown as follows: "Could it be that the Chinese consume so much ginseng that they become immortal? No, it is just that they prefer not to declare their dead. Instead, they hand over the corpse to a relative who owns a car travels often for business reasons to neighborning countries. This relative will easily dispose of the body in the Netherlands or Germany by declaring his traveling companion suffered a sudden attack. The dead will be buried without much formality, and his papers resold or given to another family member who has entered France illegally."
     This absurd rumor prompted Parisian authorities to conduct an investigation. They found no evidence to buttress Holzman's charge. They concluded that the low death rate is due to the youth of the population (71% of the district's Asians are under 35, only 3% over 65).
     Holzman also claims, no doubt incorrectly, that social links in the Chinese communities are so strong that any Chinese who cheats his compatriots in any country will be ostracized for life from all the world's Chinatowns.
     Richard Sola, another sinologist, also caused a scandal in Paris two years ago when he resigned his position as news director at Radio-Asie, the largest Asian-language station in Paris. As reason for his decision, Sola cited strong efforts by rich Chinatown merchants to control the 13th Arrondissement and to limit his journalistic freedom. Sola warned of the potential danger of a Chinese mafia. "A ghetto will generate social behavior that is unacceptable for a country like France," said Sola in an interview with the weekly L'Evenement du Jeudi. "Eventually, this ghetto [Chinatown] will prepare for a takeover of the Asian communities by the big Chinese mafia." PAGE 4

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