FRENCH INDOCHINA (previously spelled as FRENCH INDO-CHINA) (French :
Indochine française; Khmer : សហភាពឥណ្ឌូចិន;
Vietnamese : Đông Dương thuộc Pháp, IPA: , frequently
abbreviated to Đông Pháp; Lao :
法屬印度支那; faat3 suk6 jan3 dou6 zi1 naa5), officially known
as the INDOCHINESE UNION (French : Union indochinoise) 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
Hanoi (Tonkin) in 1902 and again to
Da Lat (Annam) in
1939. In 1945 it was moved back to Hanoi.
Fall of France during
World War II
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.
Beginning in May 1941, the
Viet Minh , a communist army led by Hồ
Chí Minh , began a revolt against the Japanese. In August 1945 they
declared Vietnamese independence and extended the war, known as the
First Indochina War , against France.
In Saigon, the anti-Communist
State of Vietnam , led by former
Bảo Đại , was granted independence in 1949. On 9 November
1953, the Kingdom of
Laos and the Kingdom of
independent. Following the Geneva Accord of 1954 , the French
French Indochina came to an end.
* 1 History
* 1.1 First French interventions
* 1.2 19th century
* 1.3 Establishment
* 1.4 Vietnamese rebellions
* 1.5 Franco-Siamese war (1893)
* 1.6 Further encroachments on Siam (1904–07)
Yên Bái mutiny
Yên Bái mutiny (1930)
* 1.8 French-Thai War (1940–41)
World War II
World War II
First Indochina War
* 1.11 Geneva Agreements
* 2 Population
* 3 Economy
* 3.1 Infrastructure
* 4 See also
* 5 Notes
* 6 References
* 7 External links
FIRST FRENCH INTERVENTIONS
Main articles: France–
Vietnam relations and French assistance to
Vietnam relations started in early 17th century with the
mission of the Jesuit missionary
Alexandre de Rhodes . At this time,
Vietnam was only just beginning to occupy the
Mekong Delta , former
territory of the Indianised kingdom of
Champa which they had defeated
European involvement in
Vietnam was confined to trade during the 18th
century. 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 .
Cochinchina Campaign See also:
French Cochinchina and
French protectorate of
France was heavily involved in
Vietnam in the 19th century;
protecting the work of the
Paris Foreign Missions Society
Paris Foreign Missions Society in the
country was often presented as a justification. 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. Palace of the Governor-General
(Norodom Palace ) in Saigon, about 1875
In September 1858, fourteen French gunships, 3,000 men and 300
Filipino troops provided by the Spanish attacked the port of Tourane
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,
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
Hà Tiên and Vĩnh Long were added to French-controlled
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
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).
French marine infantrymen in Tonkin, 1884 The expansion
French Indochina (blue). Main article:
Tonkin campaign See also:
Annam (French protectorate) ,
Tonkin (French protectorate) , French
Laos , and
France obtained control over northern
Vietnam following its victory
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
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
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 the colonising power.
Nationalist sentiments intensified in Vietnam, especially during and
after World War I , but all the uprisings and tentative efforts failed
to obtain any concessions from the French overseers.
FRANCO-SIAMESE WAR (1893)
Franco-Siamese War Siamese army in the disputed
Laos in 1893.
Territorial conflict in the Indochinese peninsula for the expansion
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
Mekong River .
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.
FURTHER ENCROACHMENTS ON SIAM (1904–07)
Trat by French troops in 1904.
The French, however, continued to pressure Siam, and in 1906–07
they manufactured another crisis . This time Siam had to concede
French control of territory on the west bank of the
Luang Prabang and around Champasak in southern Laos, as well as
France also occupied the western part of Chantaburi
In 1904, to get back Chantaburi Siam had to give
Trat to French
Trat became part of
Thailand again on 23 March 1907 in
exchange for many areas east of the
Battambang , Siam
Nakhon and Sisophon .
French Indochina in 1930.
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
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.
YêN BáI MUTINY (1930)
Yên Bái mutiny
Yên Bái mutiny
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
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
FRENCH-THAI WAR (1940–41)
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.
WORLD WAR II
French Indochina in
World War II
World War II and 1940–46 in the
Vietnam War A propaganda painting in
Hanoi , 1942.
In September 1940, during
World War II
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
Second Sino-Japanese War against the forces of Chiang
Kai-shek , but it was also part of Japan's strategy for dominion over
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. On 8 April, the Japanese pressured Lao Crown
Sisavang Vatthana to declare the independence of
Laos , then
launched the Second
French Indochina Campaign . The Japanese kept
power in Indochina until the news of their government's surrender came
through in August.
FIRST INDOCHINA WAR
First Indochina War
After the World War,
France petitioned for the nullification of the
1938 Franco-Siamese Treaty and attempted to reassert 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
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!" Members of the 1st Foreign Parachute Heavy
Mortar Company during the Indochina War.
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
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
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. Bitter fighting ensued in the First
Indochina War . In 1950 Ho again declared an independent Democratic
Republic of Vietnam, which was recognised by the fellow Communist
China and the Soviet Union. Fighting lasted until May
1954, when the
Viet Minh won the decisive victory against French
forces at the gruelling Battle of Điện Biên Phủ . Indochina
On 27 April 1954, the Geneva Conference produced the Geneva
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
France did withdraw, turning the north over to the Communists
Bảo Đại regime, with American support, kept control of
The events of 1954 marked the beginnings of serious United States
Vietnam and the ensuing
Vietnam War .
Laos and Cambodia
also became independent in 1954, but were both drawn into the Vietnam
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
Buddhism influenced by
Confucianism more dominant in Vietnam,
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. The subdivisions of French Indochina.
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)
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
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,
Cambodia were less influenced by French education.
Despite the dominance of the French language, 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) but since then English, increasingly
taught in schools across the country, has massively replaced French as
the second language. Today, less than 0.5% of the population of
Vietnam can speak French.
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 monopolised goods, including
alcohol and opium. 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
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
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
Paul Doumer Bridge, now
Long Biên Bridge Musée Louis
Hanoi , built by Ernest Hébrard in 1932, now National Museum
of Vietnamese History
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
Palais Garnier ), the
Hanoi St. Joseph\'s Cathedral (resembling
Notre Dame de Paris
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
Pakse in Laos.
* French protectorate of
List of Governors-General of French Indochina
Political administration of French Indochina
List of French possessions and colonies
* ^ While both 'Indo-China' and 'Indochina' can be found in
contemporary English-language sources, 'Indo-China' is the most
commonly used spelling (even though 'Indochine', instead of
'Indo-Chine', was commonly used in French); contemporary official
publications also adopt the spelling of 'Indo-China'.
* ^ Decree of 17 October 1887.
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* (in English) (in French) The Colonization of Indochina,