The region that is now has been inhabited for thousands of years. In the New Stone Age, which began about 1500 B. C. in Southeast Asia, it was occupied by tribal groups of Indonesian racial stock. In the fourth century B. C. , the ancestors of the modern Vietnamese, a Mongoloid people, migrated from southern China to what is now the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam. There they encountered the Indonesian people, with whom they fought and later mixed. An important settlement of this period has been uncovered by archeologists at Dong Son.
Moreover, a number of Vietnamese states developed. About 207 B. C. , they were unified as the Kingdom of Nambiet. In 111 B. C. the armies of the Han dynasty of China overran the kingdom, and the Chinese remained in control for almost a thousand years. During this period, the Vietnamese were profoundly influenced by Chinese Customs and ideas. In the 10th century A. D. , the Vietnamese regained their independence, although China’s overlordship was recognized (see “History of Vietnam”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
November 27, 2006). Furthermore, the first contact with Europeans came early in the 16th century when Portuguese traders arrived. A century later, French missionaries appeared, laying a foundation for French penetration of the area. Over the years, France exerted increasing economic and political influence, particularly in Annam. The Nguyen family of Annam, with French aid, forced Tonkin under its rule and reunified the empire in 1802. Nguyen Anh proclaimed himself Emperor Gia Long and ruled, 1802-20, from the capital city of Hue.
The Annamese Empire became the dominant power of the Indochinese Peninsula. In the mid-19th century, France used the persecution of European missionaries as justification for military intervention. French troops were sent in 1858. By 1867, Saigon and adjacent areas had become the French colony of Cochin China. By 1884, protectorates had been established over Tonkin and Annam. Three years later, France combined Annam, Tonkin, Cochin, China, and Kampuchea into Indochinese Union and subsequently added Laos (see “History of Vietnam”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. November 27, 2006).
The intents of this paper are to: (1) know the Vietnamese experience of domination by China and France; (2) understand why French Colonialism was so bitterly opposed by many Vietnamese and; (3) the arguments for and against Vietnamese independence in 1945. II. Background A. The Vietnamese experience of domination by China and France By the middle of the 1st millennium B. C, a small state based on irrigated agriculture and calling itself Van Lang had emerged in the Yuan delta. In 101 B. C. , Van Lang was overrun by forces from the north and gradually absorbed into the expanding Chinese empire.
In the 10th century, rebel groups drove out Chinese and restored national independence. The new state, which styled itself Dai Viet accepted a tributary status with China. It resisted periodic efforts to restore Chinese rule, however, and began to expand its territory, conquering the state of CHAMPA to the south and eventually seizing the Mekong delta from the declining Khmer Empire (see “Vietnam War”). During the last quarter of the 18th century, a peasant rebellion led by the so-called Tay Son brothers in the south spread to north, where the leading brother, Nguyen Hue, united the country and declared himself as emperor.
After his death in 1792, this dynasty rapidly declined and was overthrown by a scion of the princely house of Nguyen, who in 1802 founded a new Nguyen dynasty with its capital at Hue. When Nguyen dynasty failed to grant privileges to France in exchange for French aid, Napoleon III ordered an attack on Vietnam in 1857. Several provinces in the south were cede to France and transformed into a new colony of Cochin China. Twenty years later, the French completed their conquest of Vietnam, dividing the northern and central parts of the country into protectorates with the historic names Tonkin and Annam.
Between 1887 and 1893, all three regions were joined with the protectorates of Laos and Cambodia into the French-dominated Union of Indochina. Deprived of a political and economic role by the colonial administration, Vietnamese patriots turned to protest or revolt. By the late 1930s, the Communist party had become the leading force in the nationalist movement (see “Vietnam War”). During the World War II, Japan occupied Vietnam, but the French Vichy Government continued to administer the country until March 1945, when the Japanese established an autonomous state of Vietnam under Annamese emperor Bao Dai.
When Japan surrendered in August, the Viet Minh—an anti-Japanese and anti-French front founded by Ho Chi Minh in 1941, revolted and seized power. In early September, Viet Minh leaders declared the formation of the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam. French forces returned by 1946, but negotiations to create a Vietnamese “free state” within the French Union collapsed. In December, the First Indochinese War broke out between the Vietnamese and the French. In 1945, the Vietnamese defeated the French at Dien Bien Phu.
Shortly after, the major powers met at Geneva and called for the de facto division of Vietnam at 17° north latitude into two separates states, the Communist state in the south, with provision for eventual reunification. The division of Vietnam lasted only two decades. In South Vietnam, the weak Bao Dai, reinstalled by the French in 1949, was replaced by Ngo Dinh Diem. Despite support from the United States, Diem was unable to suppress a continuing guerrilla insurgency. Moreover, the relations between North and China reached the breaking point at war’s end because of territorial disagreements and a growing rivalry over Cambodia and Laos.
In November 1978, Vietnam signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation with the Soviet Union. Less than two months later, Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia, overthrew the pro-Chinese Khmer Rouge regime, and installed a new government sympathetic to Hanoi. China continued to support Khmer Rouge guerillas in Cambodia and cooperated with the ASEAN nations in demanding a withdrawal of Vietnamese forces from the country (see “The Lessons of Colonialism”). III. Discussion A. Why French Colonialism was so bitterly opposed by many Vietnamese?
Every nation wants to have freedom of its own; thus, a kind of government that runs its own people. Vietnam people already experienced how it is being under an empire and how hard life is if their lives have been controlled by invaders for centuries. Vietnamese had experienced countless troubles and sufferings inflicted by selfish colonizers—who want power for their own welfare and not for the benefit of many. In World War II, Japanese troops defeated the French colonizers and made Vietnam its colony. But the French did not give up and had another battle with the Japanese.
This time, French won and in the battle and wanted to reestablished its power again in Vietnam. And since the Vietnamese suffered a lot over the battle of the two greedy colonizers, this time, they refused to submit under the authority of France and no longer allowed the French colonizers to control them. In spite of this scenario, there were still people who submit under French colonizers and dwelt in southern Vietnam and were able to gain access—in terms of economic connections– with France and other Western nations.
But those Vietnamese who refused and opposed to be under the French authority had moved to the northern and southern Vietnam. In addition, most people in Vietnam bitterly opposed the French Colonialism because of its greediness of power and not allowing the Vietnam to have independence. Not only was that, Vietnam’s natural resources were exploited. The difficulties of administering a long and narrow empire and cultural differences between the traditionalist and densely populated north and the sparsely settled “frontier” region in the Mekong delta led to civil war in the 17th century.
Two major aristocratic families, the Trinh and the Nguyen, squabbled for domination over the decrepit Vietnamese monarchy. This internal strife was exacerbated by European adventurers who frequently intervened with its capital at Hue. Moreover, in 1954, the French hoping to win a decisive victory, lured the Viet Minh into a set-piece battle at Dien Bien Phu, but were in turn besieged there (see “The Indochina War”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. November 23, 2006). During the siege, the exhausted government placed Indochina on the agenda of an international conference at Geneva.
Defeat at Dien Bien Phu made France decide to withdraw from Indochina. The conference terms were a mixed victory for the Viet Minh. Ho Chi Minh’s Communist allies, the USSR and China, pressured him into accepting temporary division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel, pending elections to be held in two years (see “Vietnam War”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. November 26, 2006). B. Arguments for and against Vietnamese independence in 1945. Before Vietnam received its independence, it had undergone thorough deliberations.
The United States of America had involved this issue—as a country that believes on independence—and even indulged on war in order to support the Vietnamese people to have its independence. The first people who oppose the idea of giving Vietnam independence were the French, of course, since they were the colonizers. If Vietnam has its authority, French colonizers cannot longer enjoy the natural riches of the country. The second people who opposed are those Vietnamese who benefits this condition but those who suffered a lot and oppressed–especially the poorer people in southern Vietnam–cried out freedom!
Early in the 20th century, a nationalist movement began to develop. There were several unsuccessful uprisings against French rule. In the 1930’s, leadership of the nationalist movement fell to the Communist party of Vietnam, organized in 1930 by Ho Chi Minh. In the World II, after the Japanese invaded French Indochina in 1940, a nationalist-Communist coalition led by Ho Chi Minh, was organized to resist aggression and work for independence. After World War II ended in 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam, consisting of Tonkin and Annam, to be an independent republic with himself as president.
The capital was set up at Hanoi. Return of the French in late 1945 touched off armed resistance by the Vietminh. In 1946, France recognized Vietnam’s autonomy- my within Indochinese Federation- but opposed the proposed annexation of Cochin China to Vietnam. The Vietminh, demanding complete independence as well as Cochin China, continued fighting. In 1949, France agreed to include Cochin China in a united Vietnam and established an anti-Communist government, under the former Annamese emperor, Bao Dai, at Saigon. He was named chief of state of the State of Vietnam.
The treaty granting Vietnam independence was confirmed in 1950. With the Vietminh still holding the north, the United States announced that it would extend military and economic aid to Vietnam to help it resist a Communist Takeover. The French forces, which had stayed to help subdue the Vietminh, were sent military supplies by the United States. In 1945, however, the Vietminh inflicted a devastating defeat on the French at Dienbienphu. A conference was called at Geneva, Switzerland, to arrange a cease-fire (see “Vietnam War”).
Of the agreements reached at the 1945 Geneva Conference, the most significant was the decision to partition Vietnam—the north was given to the Vietminh while the Saigon government retained the south. Elections were planned to reunify the nation. South Vietnam, which objected to the partition, and the United States, which had no primary responsibility in Indochina, refused to sign the agreements. After the partition, there were mass movements of populations. Almost 1,000,000 refugees from Communism moved to south. About 100,000 Vietminh moved to North Vietnam.
Before leaving, they buried food and equipment to be used, if necessary, in future military actions (see “Vietnam War”). IV. Conclusion Emerging as a distinct civilization during the 1st millennium B. C. , Vietnam was conquered by Cha during the early Han dynasty and subjected to 1,000 years of foreign rule. In AD 393, Vietnam restored its independence but in the 19th century conquered once again and absorbed, along with neighboring Cambodia and Laos, into French Indochina. After World War II, Communist-led Viet Minh guerillas battled for several years to free the country from foreign subjugation.
- “Vietnam War”. http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=1583
- “History of Vietnam”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. November 27, 2006. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Vietnam
- “Vietnam War”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. November 26, 2006. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War
- “The Lessons of Colonialism”. http://www.asian-nation.org/colonialism.shtml