Destinations Magazine

Vietnamese Migrants Are Thriving in Poland and the Czech Republic

By Stizzard

"THE BUSINESS CENTRE", a sprawling warehouse in Wolka Kosowska outside Warsaw, has a distinctly East Asian feel. The air is filled with zither music and haggling in Vietnamese. Impromptu bouts of tien len, a card game, are set up on cardboard boxes. A sign warns that "burning incense is prohibited"; another that tea dregs are not to clog the wash basin.

Poland and the Czech Republic, both of which vehemently oppose European efforts to redistribute Syrian refugees, are home to large Asian communities. The first Vietnamese arrived in the 1980s as part of a student exchange between their country and the socialist republics of Eastern Europe. Many settled and brought over relatives. Today there are an estimated 40,000-50,000 of them in Poland, and 60,000-80,000 in the Czech Republic, the highest by proportion in Europe. The Buddhist temples and cultural centres sprouting up suggest that they are here to stay.

In both countries the Vietnamese have integrated well. The consonant-heavy local languages initially forced them into mute professions such as wholesaling food and textiles. The more industrious flocked to trading centres in Poland and fanned out across the Czech Republic to open grocery stores and even retail chains. Some struck gold: Tao Ngoc Tu, who came as a student, now runs an Asian...

The Economist: Europe
Vietnamese migrants are thriving in Poland and the Czech Republic

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