Introduction to the chapter Nationalist Movement in Indochina: Indochina is a South-East Asian region. It is located roughly east of India and south of China and is naturally influenced by both. The term Indochina refers solely to the region that includes modern-day Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
- French involvement in Indochina began in the early seventeenth century, with the arrival of French priests as part of the Portuguese Jesuit Mission. The initial Vietnamese response was to oppose foreign interests, religion, and commerce.
- The most significant French intervention occurred in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1858, the French arrived in Indochina. They had acquired Cochinchina, Tonkin, and Annam during a war against China in the 1880s.
- French Indochina was established in 1887. French Indochina was made up of four protectorates: Laos, Cambodia, and two parts of Vietnam, Tonkin and Annam.
French motives in colonisation
The French, like other imperialistic countries, saw colonisation as necessary. The colonies provided raw materials and cheap labour, effectively ending their search for a market.
- They satisfied the desire for glory, prestige, and manpower, as well as assisting the French in establishing Roman Catholicism and French culture in the colonies.
- The colonies were required to serve the mother country's interests. The colonies were purchased solely for the purpose of profit.
- The French, like the British in India, desired to civilize the colony of Vietnam. It was, of course, based on the assumption that their civilisation was superior. It made no difference if they destroyed local culture, religions, and traditions in the name of modern civilisation.
The conflict of languages
As with the British in India, the French had to decide whether to use French or Vietnamese in schools. Vietnamese culture was influenced by Chinese culture, which the French had to eradicate. As a result, they destroyed the traditional education system and established their own schools.
- In textbooks, the French claimed that colonial rule benefited Vietnam. According to the French, the Vietnamese were backward, suitable only for manual labour rather than intellectual work.
- The only work they could do was work in the fields as they were incapable of governing themselves. Vietnam was promised peace and order in French textbooks. A French rule was a period of peace for peasants.
- Briefly put, French culture and rule were essential to Vietnamese civilisation. This caused anger among the people and contributed to the nationalist movement in Indochina.
The reaction of the Vietnamese in schools
Teachers and students in the lower school did not follow any higher-level instructions. While criticizing French textbooks, they adhered to their own curriculum.
- Saigon Native Girls School was an example of defiance. In 1926, a native girl was asked to give up her front-row seat to a French student from the neighbourhood. The offer was rejected by her. Her French principal expelled her. Several other students who defended her were expelled as well. Ultimately, the government intervened as the conflict grew worse.
- Students protested against the colonial government for failing to give them better jobs.
- In order to fight for their rights, they formed political parties. Among these was the party of Young Annan, which emerged in 1920.
- French colonialism was fought by schools and students. Their culture and identity were at stake. Rather than being treated as slaves, they were fighting for independence, adding to the already existent nationalist movement in Indochina.
Religious beliefs and anti-colonialism
The clash between colonial rulers and Vietnamese nationalists, resulting in a nationalist movement in Indochina was also fueled by religion. Buddhists and Confucianists were practised by the Vietnamese.
- Chinese philosopher Confucius (554-479 BCE) taught social skills, good behaviour, and respect for the elderly. As a rule, he believed that the ruler should behave like a father to his subjects. Christian missionaries introduced Christianity and preached against some of Vietnam's practices.
- A goal of theirs was to discredit Vietnamese belief in the supernatural.
- An uprising of scholars against the spread of Christianity broke out in 1868, spurred by officials of the Royal Court. Over a thousand Catholics were killed in the provinces of Ngu An and Ha Tien.
- French authorities suppressed the uprising with ruthlessness, but the uprising inspired nationalists even after it was put down and the nationalist movement in Indochina.
The Hoa Hao Movement
In 1939, the Mekong Delta region saw the emergence of this movement. Huynh Phu So was its founder.
- While preaching against gambling, drinking, and opium use, as well as the sale of child brides, he aided the poor, performed miracles, and performed miracles Himself. He was detained in a mental institution after the French declared him insane to put down the movement.
- It's ironic that instead of declaring Phu So insane, the doctor in the asylum became his disciple! Despite being forced to be released by the French, Huynh Phu So was banished to Laos. Concentration camps held a large number of his supporters.
- Consequently, religion instilled anti-colonial sentiments in Vietnam.
- The Confucians offered an alternative to French dominance. The nationalist leader Phan Boi Chau (1867-1940) was one of them who strengthened the nationalist movement in Indochina. A scholar of Ngu An Province, his father had instructed him in the Confucian tradition.
- In 1885, phan Boi Chau witnessed French troops crushing the scholar-gentry resistance to colonial overlords. In 1903, he established the Revolutionary Society (Duy Tan Hoi), which was headed by Prince Cuong De. The goal was to put together Nguyen members with nationalist sympathies that could lead the independence movement.
- From 1905 to 1908, he lived in Japan. There, he met Japanese and Chinese revolutionaries. In 1905, he met the Chinese reformer Liang Qichao (1873-1929) in Yokohama.
Influence of Japan and China
In 1907, Phan Boi Chau founded a society of about 100 Vietnamese students in Japan. The students were influenced by this society to identify as Vietnamese, rather than Cochinchinense, Annamese, or Tonkinese, as the French referred to them.
- The primary objective was to drive the French out of Vietnam and restore the Nguyen Dynasty, which had been deposed by France. Japan amazed them, as it had become "modern" and even defeated Russia in 1904.
- Students from Vietnam established a branch of the "Restoration Society" in Tokyo.
- However, in 1908, the Japanese forced Phan Boi Chau to leave Japan and deported him to China. Many students fled to Thailand.
The Liberation Struggle and the Second World War
In September 1940, the Japanese forced the French to allow them to use Indochina for military operations. The Japanese were forced to retreat by American forces and the Chinese in 1944.
- In 1945, Japan decided to maintain control of Indochina but had to surrender after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by the Atom Bombs in August 1945. Indochina was reclaimed by France.
- The Vietnamese nationalists were forced to fight both the French and the Japanese during the war. Hanoi was retaken from the Japanese occupation by the Vietminh, or League for Independence of Vietnam, in September 1945.
War with France
After World War II, the French faced the Vietminh, led by the French-educated Ho Chi Minh. America supported Ho Chi Minh during World War II. In addition, the victorious Japanese in the war inspired the Vietnamese.
- A nationalist movement in Indochina led by Ho Chi Minh was launched to liberate France-occupied territory. The puppet government led by Bao Dai that France had backed in Annam was toppled by him in 1945. In September 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared the Republic of Vietnam independent.
- Later, he agreed to make it an autonomous state within the French Union. French-Vietnamese relations deteriorated shortly thereafter, and the French and Vietnamese fought a long battle in 1946.
- Vietminh forces won a decisive victory at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, as the French found the war too costly.
The Geneva Conference
The Geneva Conference divided Vietnam in 1954. Ho Chi Minh was sworn in as the first president of North Vietnam. The Bao Dai government ruled South Vietnam. As a result of the division of the country, a prolonged civil war ensued.
- France effectively lost all claim to territory in the Indochinese peninsula as a result of the Geneva Conference. In 1954, French colonial rule ended, but the United States also became seriously involved in South Vietnam, resulting in the Vietnam War.
- In spite of the United States' superiority in military technology, continuous medical supplies, and access to superior medical equipment, 47,244 men lost their lives and 303,704 were wounded.
- 1914 saw the signing of a peace treaty in Paris. The war with the United States was thus effectively ended. July 2, 1976, marked the reunification of Vietnam as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
- The city of Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.