French Indochina (previously spelled as French Indo-China) (French: Indochine française; Vietnamese: Đông Dương thuộc Pháp/東洋屬法(Pháp(French)-Ấn Độ(India)-Trung Quốc(China)) IPA: [ɗə̄wŋm jɨ̄əŋ tʰûək fǎp], frequently abbreviated to Đông Pháp; Khmer: សហភាពឥណ្ឌូចិន; Lao: ສະຫະພັນອິນດູຈີນ; Chinese: 法属印度支那/Fàshǔ Yìndù zhīnà), officially known as the Indochinese Union (French: Union indochinoise; Vietnamese: Liên bang Đông Dương) after 1887 and the Indochinese Federation (French: Fédération indochinoise) after 1947, was a grouping of French colonial territories in Southeast Asia.
A grouping of the three Vietnamese regions of Tonkin (north), Annam (centre), and Cochinchina (south) with Cambodia was formed in 1887. Laos was added in 1893 and the leased Chinese territory of Guangzhouwan in 1898. The capital was moved from Saigon (in Cochinchina) to Hanoi (Tonkin) in 1902 and again to Da Lat (Annam) in 1939. In 1945 it was moved back to Hanoi.
After the Fall of France during World War II, the colony was administered by the Vichy government and was under Japanese occupation until March 1945, when the Japanese overthrew the colonial regime. After the Japanese surrender, the Viet Minh, a communist organization led by Hồ Chí Minh, declared Vietnamese independence, but France subsequently took back control of French Indochina. An all-out independence war, known as the First Indochina War, broke out in late 1946 between French and Viet Minh forces.
In order to create a political alternative to the Viet Minh, the State of Vietnam, led by former Emperor Bảo Đại, was proclaimed in 1949. On 9 November 1953 the Kingdom of Cambodia proclaimed its independence. Following the Geneva Accord of 1954, the French evacuated Vietnam and French Indochina came to an end.
|Status||Federation of French colonial possessions|
|Common languages||French (official)|
|Historical era||New Imperialism|
• First establishment
|17 October 1887|
• Addition of Laos
|3 October 1893|
• Addition of Guangzhouwan
|5 January 1900|
|22 September 1940 – 26 September 1940|
|October 1940–9 May 1941|
|9 March 1945 – 15 May 1945|
• First disestablishment
|15 May 1945|
• Second establishment
|22 September 1945|
|20 July 1954|
• Second disestablishment
|21 July 1954|
|1935||737,000 km2 (285,000 sq mi)|
|Currency||French Indochinese piastre|
|Today part of|
French–Vietnamese relations started during the early 17th century with the arrival of the Jesuit missionary Alexandre de Rhodes. Around this time, Vietnam had only just begun its "Push to the South"—"Nam Tiến", the occupation of the Mekong Delta, a territory being part of the Khmer Empire and to a lesser extent, the kingdom of Champa which they had defeated in 1471.
European involvement in Vietnam was confined to trade during the 18th century, as the remarkably successful work of the Jesuit missionaries continued. In 1787, Pierre Pigneau de Behaine, a French Catholic priest, petitioned the French government and organised French military volunteers to aid Nguyễn Ánh in retaking lands his family lost to the Tây Sơn. Pigneau died in Vietnam but his troops fought on until 1802 in the French assistance to Nguyễn Ánh.
The French colonial empire was heavily involved in Vietnam in the 19th century; often French intervention was undertaken in order to protect the work of the Paris Foreign Missions Society in the country. For its part, the Nguyễn dynasty increasingly saw Catholic missionaries as a political threat; courtesans, for example, an influential faction in the dynastic system, feared for their status in a society influenced by an insistence on monogamy.
In 1858, the brief period of unification under the Nguyễn dynasty ended with a successful attack on Da Nang by French Admiral Charles Rigault de Genouilly under the orders of Napoleon III. Diplomat Charles de Montigny's mission having failed, Genouilly's mission was to stop attempts to expel Catholic missionaries. His orders were to stop the persecution of missionaries and assure the unimpeded propagation of the faith.
In September 1858, fourteen French gunships, 3,000 men and 300 Filipino troops provided by the Spanish attacked the port of Tourane (present day Da Nang), causing significant damage and occupying the city. After a few months, Rigault had to leave the city due to supply issues and illnesses.
Sailing south, de Genouilly then captured the poorly defended city of Saigon on 18 February 1859. On 13 April 1862, the Vietnamese government was forced to cede the three provinces of Biên Hòa, Gia Định and Định Tường to France. De Genouilly was criticised for his actions and was replaced by Admiral Page in November 1859, with instructions to obtain a treaty protecting the Catholic faith in Vietnam, but refrain from territorial gains.
French policy four years later saw a reversal, with the French continuing to accumulate territory. In 1862, France obtained concessions from Emperor Tự Đức, ceding three treaty ports in Annam and Tonkin, and all of Cochinchina, the latter being formally declared a French territory in 1864. In 1867 the provinces of Châu Đốc, Hà Tiên and Vĩnh Long were added to French-controlled territory.
In 1863, the Cambodian king Norodom had requested the establishment of a French protectorate over his country. In 1867, Siam (modern Thailand) renounced suzerainty over Cambodia and officially recognised the 1863 French protectorate on Cambodia, in exchange for the control of Battambang and Siem Reap provinces which officially became part of Thailand. (These provinces would be ceded back to Cambodia by a border treaty between France and Siam in 1906).
France obtained control over northern Vietnam following its victory over China in the Sino-French War (1884–85). French Indochina was formed on 17 October 1887 from Annam, Tonkin, Cochinchina (which together form modern Vietnam) and the Kingdom of Cambodia; Laos was added after the Franco-Siamese War in 1893.
The federation lasted until 21 July 1954. In the four protectorates, the French formally left the local rulers in power, who were the Emperors of Vietnam, Kings of Cambodia, and Kings of Luang Prabang, but in fact gathered all powers in their hands, the local rulers acting only as figureheads.
French troops landed in Vietnam in 1858 and by the mid-1880s they had established a firm grip over the northern region. From 1885 to 1895, Phan Đình Phùng led a rebellion against France. Nationalist sentiments intensified in Vietnam, especially during and after World War I, but all the uprisings and tentative efforts failed to obtain sufficient concessions from the French.
Territorial conflict in the Indochinese peninsula for the expansion of French Indochina led to the Franco-Siamese War of 1893. In 1893 the French authorities in Indochina used border disputes, followed by the Paknam naval incident, to provoke a crisis. French gunboats appeared at Bangkok, and demanded the cession of Lao territories east of the Mekong River.
King Chulalongkorn appealed to the British, but the British minister told the King to settle on whatever terms he could get, and he had no choice but to comply. Britain's only gesture was an agreement with France guaranteeing the integrity of the rest of Siam. In exchange, Siam had to give up its claim to the Thai-speaking Shan region of north-eastern Burma to the British, and cede Laos to France.
The French continued to pressure Siam, and in 1902 they manufactured another crisis. This time Siam had to concede French control of territory on the west bank of the Mekong opposite Luang Prabang and around Champasak in southern Laos, as well as western Cambodia. France also occupied the western part of Chantaburi.
In 1904, to get back Chantaburi, Siam had to give Trat and Koh Kong to French Indochina. Trat became part of Thailand again on 23 March 1907 in exchange for many areas east of the Mekong like Battambang, Siam Nakhon and Sisophon.
In the 1930s, Siam engaged France in a series of talks concerning the repatriation of Siamese provinces held by the French. In 1938, under the Front Populaire administration in Paris, France had agreed to repatriate Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Siem Pang and the associated provinces (approximately 13) to Siam. Meanwhile, Siam took over control of those areas, in anticipation of the upcoming treaty. Signatories from each country were dispatched to Tokyo to sign the treaty repatriating the lost provinces.
On 10 February 1930, there was an uprising by Vietnamese soldiers in the French colonial army's Yên Bái garrison. The Yên Bái mutiny was sponsored by the Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng (VNQDĐ). The VNQDĐ was the Vietnamese Nationalist Party. The attack was the largest disturbance brewed up by the Cần Vương monarchist restoration movement of the late 19th century.
The aim of the revolt was to inspire a wider uprising among the general populace in an attempt to overthrow the colonial authority. The VNQDĐ had previously attempted to engage in clandestine activities to undermine French rule, but increasing French scrutiny of their activities led to their leadership group taking the risk of staging a large scale military attack in the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam.
During World War II, Thailand took the opportunity of French weaknesses to reclaim previously lost territories, resulting in the Franco-Thai War between October 1940 and 9 May 1941. The Thai forces generally did well on the ground, but Thai objectives in the war were limited. In January, Vichy French naval forces decisively defeated Thai naval forces in the Battle of Ko Chang. The war ended in May at the instigation of the Japanese, with the French forced to concede territorial gains for Thailand.
In September 1940, during World War II, the newly created regime of Vichy France granted Japan's demands for military access to Tonkin following the Japanese occupation of French Indochina, which lasted until the end of the Pacific War. This allowed Japan better access to China in the Second Sino-Japanese War against the forces of Chiang Kai-shek, but it was also part of Japan's strategy for dominion over the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
Thailand took this opportunity of weakness to reclaim previously lost territories, resulting in the Franco-Thai War between October 1940 and 9 May 1941.
On 9 March 1945, with France liberated, Germany in retreat, and the United States ascendant in the Pacific, Japan decided to take complete control of Indochina and destroyed the French colonial administration. Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were proclaimed as independent states, members of Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Japanese kept power in Indochina until the news of their government's surrender came through in August. The general disorganization of French Indochina, coupled with several natural disasters, caused a dreadful famine in Northern and Central Vietnam. Several hundred thousand people – possibly over one million – are believed to have starved to death in 1944–45.
After the World War, France petitioned for the nullification of the 1938 Franco-Siamese Treaty and reasserted itself in the region, but came into conflict with the Viet Minh, a coalition of Communist and Vietnamese nationalists led by Hồ Chí Minh, founder of the Indochinese Communist Party. During World War II, the United States had supported the Viet Minh in resistance against the Japanese; the group had been in control of the countryside since the French gave way in March 1945.
American President Roosevelt and General Stilwell privately made it adamantly clear that the French were not to reacquire French Indochina after the war was over. He told Secretary of State Cordell Hull the Indochinese were worse off under the French rule of nearly 100 years than they were at the beginning. Roosevelt asked Chiang Kai-shek if he wanted Indochina, to which Chiang Kai-shek replied: "Under no circumstances!"
After the war, 200,000 Chinese troops under General Lu Han sent by Chiang Kai-shek invaded northern Indochina north of the 16th parallel to accept the surrender of Japanese occupying forces, and remained there until 1946. The Chinese used the VNQDĐ, the Vietnamese branch of the Chinese Kuomintang, to increase their influence in Indochina and put pressure on their opponents.
Chiang Kai-shek threatened the French with war in response to manoeuvering by the French and Ho Chi Minh against each other, forcing them to come to a peace agreement, and in February 1946 he also forced the French to surrender all of their concessions in China and renounce their extraterritorial privileges in exchange for withdrawing from northern Indochina and allowing French troops to reoccupy the region starting in March 1946.
After persuading Emperor Bảo Đại to abdicate in his favour, on 2 September 1945 President Ho Chi Minh declared independence for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. But before September's end, a force of British and Free French soldiers, along with captured Japanese troops, restored French control. Ho Chi Minh agreed to negotiate with the French in order to gain autonomy, but the Fontainebleau Agreements of 1946 failed to produce a satisfactory solution. Bitter fighting ensued in the First Indochina War as Ho and his government took to the hills. In 1949, in order to provide a political alternative to Ho Chi Minh, the French favored the creation of a unified State of Vietnam, and former Emperor Bảo Đại was put back in power. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia became associated states of the French Union and were granted more autonomy.
However, 1950 was the turning point of the war. Ho's government was recognised by the fellow Communist governments of China and the Soviet Union, and Mao's government subsequently gave a fallback position to Ho's forces, as well as abundant supplies of weapons. In October 1950, the French army suffered its first major defeat with the battle of Route Coloniale 4. Subsequent efforts by the French military managed to improve their situation only in the short term. Bảo Đại's State of Vietnam proved a weak and unstable government, and Norodom Sihanouk's Cambodia proclaimed its independence in November 1953. Fighting lasted until May 1954, when the Viet Minh won the decisive victory against French forces at the gruelling battle of Điện Biên Phủ.
On 20 July 1954, the Geneva Conference produced the Geneva Agreements between North Vietnam and France. Provisions included supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Indochina, granting it independence from France, declaring the cessation of hostilities and foreign involvement in internal Indochina affairs, and delineating northern and southern zones into which opposing troops were to withdraw. The Agreements mandated unification on the basis of internationally supervised free elections to be held in July 1956.
It was at this conference that France relinquished any claim to territory in the Indochinese peninsula. The United States and South Vietnam rejected the Geneva Accords and never signed. South Vietnamese leader Diem rejected the idea of nationwide election as proposed in the agreement, saying that a free election was impossible in the communist North and that his government was not bound by the Geneva Accords. France did withdraw, turning the north over to the Communists while the Bảo Đại regime, with American support, kept control of the South.
The events of 1954 marked the beginnings of serious United States involvement in Vietnam and the ensuing Vietnam War. Laos and Cambodia also became independent in 1954, but were both drawn into the Vietnam War.
The Vietnamese, Lao and Khmer ethnic groups formed the majority of their respective colony's populations. Minority groups such as the Muong, Tay, Chams, and Jarai, were collectively known as Montagnards and resided principally in the mountain regions of Indochina. Ethnic Han Chinese were largely concentrated in major cities, especially in Southern Vietnam and Cambodia, where they became heavily involved in trade and commerce. Around 95% of French Indochina's population was rural in a 1913 estimate, although urbanisation did slowly grow over the course of French rule.
The principal religion in French Indochina was Buddhism, with Mahayana Buddhism influenced by Confucianism more dominant in Vietnam, while Theravāda Buddhism was more widespread in Laos and Cambodia. In addition, active Catholic missionaries were widespread throughout Indochina and roughly 10% of Tonkin's population identified as Catholic by the end of French rule. Cao Đài's origins began during this period as well.
Unlike Algeria, French settlement in Indochina did not occur at a grand scale. By 1940, only about 34,000 French civilians lived in French Indochina, along with a smaller number of French military personnel and government workers. The principal reasons why French settlement did not grow in a manner similar to that in French North Africa (which had a population of over 1 million French civilians) were because French Indochina was seen as a colonie d'exploitation économique (economic colony) rather than a colonie de peuplement (settlement colony helping Metropolitan France from being overpopulated), and because Indochina was distant from France itself.
During French colonial rule, the French language was the principal language of education, government, trade, and media and French was widely introduced to the general population. French became widespread among urban and semi-urban populations and became the principal language of the elite and educated. This was most notable in the colonies of Tonkin and Cochinchina (Northern and Southern Vietnam respectively), where French influence was most heavy, while Annam, Laos and Cambodia were less influenced by French education.
Despite the dominance of French in official and educational settings, local populations still largely spoke their native languages. After French rule ended, the French language was still largely used among the new governments (with the exception of North Vietnam). Today, French continues to be taught as a second language in the former colonies and used in some administrative affairs.
French Indochina was designated as a colonie d'exploitation (colony of economic exploitation) by the French government. Funding for the colonial government came by means of taxes on locals and the French government established a near monopoly on the trade of opium, salt and rice alcohol. The French administration established quotas of consumption for each Vietnamese village, thereby compelling villagers to purchase and consume set amounts of these monopolised goods. The trade of those three products formed about 44% of the colonial government's budget in 1920 but declined to 20% by 1930 as the colony began to economically diversify.
The colony's principal bank was the Banque de l'Indochine, established in 1875 and was responsible for minting the colony's currency, the Indochinese piastre. Indochina was the second most invested-in French colony by 1940 after Algeria, with investments totalling up to 6.7 million francs.
Beginning in the 1930s, France began to exploit the region for its natural resources and to economically diversify the colony. Cochinchina, Annam and Tonkin (encompassing modern-day Vietnam) became a source of tea, rice, coffee, pepper, coal, zinc and tin, while Cambodia became a centre for rice and pepper crops. Only Laos was seen initially as an economically unviable colony, although timber was harvested at a small scale from there.
At the turn of the 20th century, the growing automobile industry in France resulted in the growth of the rubber industry in French Indochina, and plantations were built throughout the colony, especially in Annam and Cochinchina. France soon became a leading producer of rubber through its Indochina colony and Indochinese rubber became prized in the industrialised world. The success of rubber plantations in French Indochina resulted in an increase in investment in the colony by various firms such as Michelin. With the growing number of investments in the colony's mines and rubber, tea and coffee plantations, French Indochina began to industrialise as factories opened in the colony. These new factories produced textiles, cigarettes, beer and cement which were then exported throughout the French Empire.
When French Indochina was viewed as an economically important colony for France, the French government set a goal to improve the transport and communications networks in the colony. Saigon became a principal port in Southeast Asia and rivalled the British port of Singapore as the region's busiest commercial centre. By 1937 Saigon was the sixth busiest port in the entire French Empire.
In 1936, the Trans-Indochinois railway linking Hanoi and Saigon opened. Further improvements in the colony's transport infrastructures led to easier travel between France and Indochina. By 1939, it took no more than a month by ship to travel from Marseille to Saigon and around five days by aeroplane from Paris to Saigon. Underwater telegraph cables were installed in 1921.
French settlers further added their influence on the colony by constructing buildings in the form of Beaux-Arts and added French-influenced landmarks such as the Hanoi Opera House (modeled on the Palais Garnier), the Hanoi St. Joseph's Cathedral (resembling the Notre Dame de Paris) and the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. The French colonists also built a number of cities and towns in Indochina which served various purposes from trading outposts to resort towns. The most notable examples include Đà Lạt in southern Vietnam and Pakse in Laos.
The governments of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have previously been reluctant to promote their colonial architecture as an asset for tourism; however, in recent times, the new generation of local authorities has somewhat 'embraced' the architecture and advertise it.
The Geneva Conference was a conference among several nations that took place in Geneva, Switzerland from April 26 – July 20, 1954. It was intended to settle outstanding issues resulting from the Korean War and the First Indochina War. The part of the conference on the Korean question ended without adopting any declarations or proposals, so is generally considered less relevant. The Geneva Accords that dealt with the dismantling of French Indochina proved to have long-lasting repercussions, however. The crumbling of the French Empire in Southeast Asia would create the eventual states of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), the State of Vietnam (the future Republic of Vietnam / South Vietnam), the Kingdom of Cambodia, and the Kingdom of Laos.
Diplomats from South Korea, North Korea, the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and the United States of America (US) dealt with the Korean side of the Conference. For the Indochina side, the Accords were between France, the Viet Minh, the USSR, the PRC, the US, the United Kingdom, and the future states being made from French Indochina. The agreement temporarily separated Vietnam into two zones, a northern zone to be governed by the Viet Minh rebels, and a southern zone to be governed by the State of Vietnam, then headed by former emperor Bảo Đại. A Conference Final Declaration, issued by the British chairman of the conference, provided that a general election be held by July 1956 to create a unified Vietnamese state. Despite helping create the agreements, they were not directly signed onto nor accepted by delegates of both the State of Vietnam and the United States. In addition, three separate ceasefire accords, covering Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, were signed at the conference.Annam (French protectorate)
Annam (Vietnamese: An Nam or Trung Kỳ, alternate spelling: Anam) was a French protectorate encompassing the central region of Vietnam. Before the protectorate's establishment, the name Annam was used in the West to refer to Vietnam as a whole. Vietnamese people were referred to as Annamites. The protectorate of Annam became in 1887 a part of French Indochina. Two other Vietnamese regions, Cochinchina (Nam Kỳ) in the South and Tonkin (Bắc Kỳ) in the North, were also units of French Indochina. The region had a dual system of French and Vietnamese administration. The Nguyễn Dynasty still nominally ruled Annam, with a puppet emperor residing in Huế. In 1948, the protectorate was merged in the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam, which was replaced the next year by the newly established State of Vietnam. The region was divided between communist North Vietnam and anti-communist South Vietnam under the terms of the Geneva Accord of 1954.First Indochina War
The First Indochina War (generally known as the Indochina War in France, and as the Anti-French Resistance War in Vietnam) began in French Indochina on December 19, 1946, and lasted until July 20, 1954. Fighting between French forces and their Việt Minh opponents in the south dated from September 1945. The conflict pitted a range of forces, including the French Union's French Far East Expeditionary Corps, led by France and supported by Bảo Đại's Vietnamese National Army against the Việt Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh and the People's Army of Vietnam led by Võ Nguyên Giáp. Most of the fighting took place in Tonkin in northern Vietnam, although the conflict engulfed the entire country and also extended into the neighboring French Indochina protectorates of Laos and Cambodia.
At the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, the Combined Chiefs of Staff decided that Indochina south of latitude 16° north was to be included in the Southeast Asia Command under British Admiral Mountbatten. Japanese forces located south of that line surrendered to him and those to the north surrendered to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. In September 1945, Chinese forces entered Tonkin, and a small British task force landed at Saigon. The Chinese accepted the Vietnamese government under Ho Chi Minh, then in power in Hanoi. The British refused to do likewise in Saigon, and deferred to the French there from the outset, against the ostensible support of the Việt Minh authorities by American OSS representatives. On V-J Day, September 2, Ho Chi Minh had proclaimed in Hanoi the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). The DRV ruled as the only civil government in all of Vietnam for a period of about 20 days, after the abdication of Emperor Bảo Đại, who had governed under Japanese rule. On 23 September 1945, with the knowledge of the British commander in Saigon, French forces overthrew the local DRV government, and declared French authority restored in Cochinchina. Guerrilla warfare began around Saigon immediately, but the French gradually retook control of the South and North of Indochina. Hô Chi Minh agreed to negotiate the future status of Vietnam, but the talks, held in France, failed to produce a solution. After over one year of latent conflict, all-out war broke out in December 1946 between French and Việt Minh forces as Hô and his government went underground. The French tried to stabilize Indochina by reorganizing it as a Federation of Associated States. In 1949, they put former Emperor Bảo Đại back in power, as the ruler of a newly established State of Vietnam.
The first few years of the war involved a low-level rural insurgency against the French. In 1949 the conflict turned into a conventional war between two armies equipped with modern weapons supplied by the United States, China and the Soviet Union. French Union forces included colonial troops from the whole former empire (Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, Laotian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese ethnic minorities), French professional troops and units of the French Foreign Legion. The use of metropolitan recruits was forbidden by the government to prevent the war from becoming even more unpopular at home. It was called the "dirty war" (la sale guerre) by leftists in France.The strategy of pushing the Việt Minh into attacking well-defended bases in remote parts of the country at the end of their logistical trails was validated at the Battle of Nà Sản. However, this base was relatively weak because of a lack of concrete and steel. French efforts were made more difficult due to the limited usefulness of armored tanks in a jungle environment, lack of strong air forces for air cover and carpet bombing, and use of foreign recruits from other French colonies (mainly from Algeria, Morocco and even Vietnam). Võ Nguyên Giáp, however, used efficient and novel tactics of direct fire artillery, convoy ambushes and massed anti-aircraft guns to impede land and air supply deliveries together with a strategy based on recruiting a sizable regular army facilitated by wide popular support, a guerrilla warfare doctrine and instruction developed in China, and the use of simple and reliable war material provided by the Soviet Union. This combination proved fatal for the bases' defenses, culminating in a decisive French defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.At the International Geneva Conference on July 21, 1954, the new socialist French government and the Việt Minh made an agreement which effectively gave the Việt Minh control of North Vietnam above the 17th parallel. The south continued under Bảo Đại. The agreement was denounced by the State of Vietnam and by the United States. A year later, Bảo Đại would be deposed by his prime minister, Ngô Đình Diệm, creating the Republic of Vietnam. Soon an insurgency, backed by the north, developed against Diệm's government. The conflict gradually escalated into the Vietnam War (1955-1975).Flag of France
The flag of France (French: Drapeau français) is a tricolour flag featuring three vertical bands coloured blue (hoist side), white, and red. It is known to English speakers as the French Tricolour or simply the Tricolour (French: Tricolore). The Tricolour has become one of the most influential flags in history, with its three-colour scheme being copied by many other nations, both in Europe and the rest of the world.The royal government used many flags, the best known being a blue shield and gold fleur-de-lis (the Royal Arms of France) on a white background, or state flag. Early in the French Revolution, the Paris militia, which played a prominent role in the storming of the Bastille, wore a cockade of blue and red, the city's traditional colours. According to French general Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, white was the "ancient French colour" and was added to the militia cockade to create a tricolour, or national, cockade. This cockade became part of the uniform of the National Guard, which succeeded the militia and was commanded by Lafayette. The colours and design of the cockade are the basis of the Tricolour flag, adopted in 1790. The only difference was that the 1790 flag's colours were reversed. A modified design by Jacques-Louis David was adopted in 1794. The royal white flag was used during the Bourbon restoration from 1815 to 1830; the tricolour was brought back after the July Revolution and has been used ever since 1830, except with a brief interruption for a few days in 1848.Franco-Thai War
The Franco-Thai War (Thai: กรณีพิพาทอินโดจีน; French: Guerre franco-thaïlandaise) (1940–1941) was fought between Thailand and Vichy France over certain areas of French Indochina.
Negotiations with France shortly before World War II had shown that the French government was willing to make appropriate changes in the boundaries between Thailand and French Indochina, but only slightly. Following the Fall of France in 1940, Major-General Plaek Pibulsonggram (popularly known as "Phibun"), the prime minister of Thailand, decided that France's defeat gave the Thais an even better chance to regain the vassal state territories that were ceded to France during King Chulalongkorn's reign.
The German military occupation of a large part of France made France's hold on its overseas possessions, including Indochina, difficult. The colonial administration was now cut off from outside help and outside supplies. After the Japanese invasion of French Indochina in September 1940, the French were forced to allow Japan to set up military bases. This seemingly subservient behaviour convinced the Phibun regime that France would not seriously resist a confrontation with Thailand.French Cochinchina
French Cochinchina, sometimes spelled Cochin-China (French: Cochinchine Française, Vietnamese: Nam Kỳ, Hán tự: 南圻), was a colony of French Indochina, encompassing the Cochinchina region of southern Vietnam. Formally called Cochinchina, it was renamed in 1946 as Autonomous Republic of Cochinchina, a controversial decision which helped trigger the First Indochina War. In 1948, the autonomous republic, whose legal status had never been formalized, was renamed as the Provisional Government of South Vietnam (not to be confused with the 1969–76 Viet Cong government). It was reunited with the rest of Vietnam in 1949.
In Vietnamese, Cochinchina was called Nam Kỳ (Southern country) although the independentists preferred to use the term Nam Bộ (Southern region).French Indochina in World War II
In the northern-hemisphere summer of 1940 Germany rapidly defeated the French Third Republic, and colonial administration of French Indochina (modern-day Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) passed to the French State (Vichy France). In September 1940 Japanese troops first entered parts of Indochina; and in July 1941 Japan extended its control over the whole of French Indochina. The United States, concerned by Japanese expansion, started putting embargoes on exports of steel and oil to Japan from July 1940. The desire to escape these embargoes and to become self-sufficient in resources ultimately contributed to Japan's decision to attack on December 7, 1941 the British Empire (in Hong Kong and Malaya) and simultaneously the USA (in the Philippines] and at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii). This led to the USA declaring war against Japan on December 8, 1941. The US then joined the British Empire, already at war with Germany since 1939, and its existing allies in the fight against the Axis powers.Indochinese Communists had set up hidden headquarters in 1941, but most of the Vietnamese resistance to Japan, France or both, including both communist and non-communist groups, remained based over the border, in China. As part of the Chinese opposition to Japanese expansion, the Chinese had fostered the formation of a Vietnamese nationalist resistance movement, the Dong Minh Hoi (DMH), in Nanking in 1935/1936; this included Communists, but was not controlled by them. When this did not provide the desired intelligence data, they released Ho Chi Minh from jail; in 1941 he returned to Vietnam from China to lead an underground centered on the Communist Viet Minh. This mission was assisted by Western intelligence agencies, including the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Free French intelligence also tried to affect developments in the Vichy-Japanese collaboration.
In March 1945 the Japanese imprisoned the French administrators and took direct control of Vietnam until the Allies defeated them in August. At that point, the Vietnamese August Revolution set up a Provisional Government, but the French took back control of the country in 1945-1946.
In looking at the broad picture of Southeast Asia at the end of World War II, several conflicting movements appear:
generic Western anticommunism that saw the French as protector of the area from Communist expansion.
nationalist and anti-colonialist movements that wanted independence from the French.
Communists who wanted to expand their influenceThe lines between these movements were not always clear, and some alliances were of convenience. Prior to his death in 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt made several comments about not wanting the French to regain control of Indochina.In 1999 former U.S. Secretary of Defense and architect of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam Robert McNamara wrote that both sides had missed opportunities. The U.S. had both ignored its own Office of Strategic Services (OSS) intelligence reports on Ho's nationalism, and failed - when the Truman Administration became suspicious he was merely a Soviet pawn - to probe the situation. McNamara found U.S. claims unconvincing that China was a threat, given a millennium of Sino-Vietnamese enmity, as well as Dean Acheson's claim that the French "blackmailed" the U.S. into supporting them. As for the Viet Minh, McNamara believes they misinterpreted the lack of U.S. response to be equivalent to enmity, and, allowed themselves to be blackmailed by the Soviets and Chinese.French Protectorate of Laos
The French protectorate of Laos was a French protectorate forming part of the French Colonial Empire in Southeast Asia. It consisted of much of the territory of the former kingdom of Lan Xang and was part of French Indochina from 1893 until it was granted self-rule within the French Union in 1946. The Franco-Lao Treaty of 1953 establishing Laos as an independent member of the French Union. Under the Geneva Conference following France's withdrawal from Indochina after the First Indochina War, Laos was granted independence in 1954.French Union
The French Union (French: Union française) (1946–1958) was a political entity created by the French Fourth Republic to replace the old French colonial system, colloquially known as the "French Empire" (Empire Français). It was the formal end of the "indigenous" (indigène) status of French subjects in colonial areas.Indochina
Indochina, originally Indo-China, is a geographical term which originated in the early nineteenth century and refers to the region today known as Mainland Southeast Asia, or the Indochinese Peninsula. The name refers to lands historically within the cultural influence of India and China, and physically bound by the Indian Subcontinent in the west and China in the north. It corresponds to the present-day areas of Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and (variably) peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. The term was later adopted as the name of the colony of French Indochina (today's Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos).Japanese coup d'état in French Indochina
The Japanese coup d'état in French Indochina, known as Meigo Sakusen (Operation Bright Moon), was a Japanese operation that took place on 9 March 1945 towards the end of World War II. With Japanese forces losing the war and the threat of an Allied invasion of Indochina imminent, the Japanese were concerned about an uprising against them by French colonial forces.Despite the French having anticipated an attack, the Japanese struck in a military campaign attacking garrisons all over the colony. The French were caught off guard and all of the garrisons were overrun with some then having to escape to Nationalist China where they were harshly interned. The Japanese replaced French officials, and effectively dismantled their control of Indochina. The Japanese were then able to install and create a new Empire of Vietnam, Kingdom of Kampuchea and Kingdom of Laos which under their direction would acquiesce with their military presence and forestall a potential invasion by the Allies.Japanese invasion of French Indochina
The Japanese invasion of French Indochina (仏印進駐, Futsu-in shinchū) was a short undeclared military confrontation between the Empire of Japan and the French State in northern French Indochina. Fighting lasted from 22 to 26 September 1940, simultaneous with the Battle of South Guangxi in the Sino-Japanese War.
The main objective of the Japanese was to prevent the Republic of China from importing arms and fuel through French Indochina along the Kunming–Hai Phong Railway, from the Indochinese port of Haiphong, through the capital of Hanoi to the Chinese city of Kunming in Yunnan.Although an agreement had been reached between the French and Japanese governments prior to the outbreak of fighting, authorities were unable to control events on the ground for several days before the troops stood down. Per the prior agreement, Japan was allowed to occupy Tonkin in northern Indochina and effectively blockade China.List of Governors-General of French Indochina
This is a list of European (as well as Japanese and Chinese) colonial administrators responsible for the territory of French Indochina, an area equivalent to modern-day Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.Postage stamps and postal history of Annam and Tongking
A concise postal history of French Annam protectorate and Tongking protectorate, former territories of colonial French Indochina, that were located in present-day Vietnam.Tonkin (French protectorate)
Tonkin, or Bắc Kỳ (北圻), was a French protectorate encompassing modern Northern Vietnam.Vietnamese Famine of 1945
The Vietnamese Famine of 1945 (Vietnamese: Nạn đói Ất Dậu - Famine of the Yiyou Year) was a famine that occurred in northern Vietnam in French Indochina during World War II from October 1944 to late 1945, which at the time was under Japanese occupation from 1940 with Vichy France as a puppet government. Between 400,000 and 2 million people are estimated to have starved to death during this time. The demographics vary from French estimates of 600,000-700,000 dead, to official Vietnamese numbers of 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 victims.
According to a 2018 study, the primary cause of the famine were typhoons that reduced the availability of food. Japan's occupation, American attacks on the Vietnamese transport system, and French colonial administration hindered an effective famine alleviation response.Việt Minh
Việt Minh (Vietnamese: [vîət mīŋ̟] (listen); abbreviated from Việt Nam độc lập đồng minh, French: "Ligue pour l'indépendance du Viêt Nam", English: "League for the Independence of Vietnam") was a national independence coalition formed at Pác Bó by Hồ Chí Minh on May 19, 1941. The Việt Nam Độc Lập Đồng Minh Hội had previously formed in Nanjing, China, at some point between August 1935 and early 1936 when Vietnamese Nationalist or other Vietnamese nationalist parties formed an anti-imperialist united front. This organization soon lapsed into inactivity, only to be revived by the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) and Hồ Chí Minh in 1941. The Việt Minh established itself as the only organized anti-French and anti-Japanese resistance group. The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from the French Empire. The United States supported France. When the Japanese occupation began, the Việt Minh opposed Japan with support from the United States and the Republic of China. After World War II, the Việt Minh opposed the re-occupation of Vietnam by France and later opposed South Vietnam and the United States in the Vietnam War.
The political leader and founder of Việt Minh was Hồ Chí Minh. The military leadership was under the command of Võ Nguyên Giáp. Other founders were Lê Duẩn and Phạm Văn Đồng.
The Việt Minh was considered by the Communist Party of Vietnam as a form of national independence front in Vietnam, it was also known as the Việt Minh's Independent Allied Front, Việt Minh Front.War in Vietnam (1945–46)
The War in Vietnam, codenamed Operation Masterdom by the British, and also known as Nam Bộ kháng chiến (English: Southern Resistance War) by the Vietnamese, was a post–World War II armed conflict involving a largely British-Indian and French task force and Japanese troops from the Southern Expeditionary Army Group, versus the Vietnamese communist movement, the Viet Minh, for control of the country, after the unconditional Japanese surrender.
The Indochina Wars are generally numbered as three: the first being France's unsuccessful eight-year conflict with the Vietminh nationalist forces (1946–1954); the second being the war for control of South Vietnam, featuring an unsuccessful American intervention, ending in 1975; finally, the conflict in Cambodia, sparked by the Vietnamese invasion in 1978. This numbering overlooks the brief but significant initial conflict — from 1945 to 1946 — that grew out of the British occupation force landing at Saigon to receive the surrender of Japanese forces.
Vietnamese independence movement