Unlike other European nations, France has a long history of labour immigration. Indeed, it started using foreign labour as early as the nineteenth century, first recruiting it from countries along its northern and eastern border (Germany, Belgium and Switzerland), then from Italy and Poland in the 1920s and 1930s, and Spain and Portugal in the 1960s and 1970s. It was also during these last two decades that it began to tap the labour force of its former colonies, Algeria, then Tunisia, Morocco and West Africa. It was against this backdrop that Asian immigration developed. Unlike the previous waves, however, it is made up not of a work force matching the needs of French companies, but mainly of refugees who arrived in France in the aftermath of conflicts in South East Asia, together with an influx of ethnic Chinese linked with the migratory networks that were set up several decades before.