Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng
Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng (Vietnamese: [vìət naːm
kwə́wk zən ɗa᷉ːŋ]; Chinese: 越南國民黨; Vietnamese
Nationalist Party), abbreviated VNQDĐ or Việt Quốc, was a
nationalist and moderate socialist political party that sought
independence from French colonial rule in
Vietnam during the early
20th century. Its origins lie in the mid-1920s, when a group of
young Hanoi-based intellectuals began publishing revolutionary
material. In 1927, after the publishing house failed because of French
harassment and censorship, the VNQDD was formed under the leadership
of Nguyễn Thái Học. Modelling itself on the Republic of China's
Kuomintang (the same 3 characters in chữ Hán: 國民黨) the VNQDD
gained a following among northerners, particularly teachers and
intellectuals. The party, which was less successful among peasants and
industrial workers, was organised in small clandestine cells.
From 1928, the VNQDD attracted attention through its assassinations of
French officials and Vietnamese collaborators. A turning point came in
February 1929 with the Bazin assassination, the killing of a French
labour recruiter widely despised by local Vietnamese people. Although
the perpetrators' precise affiliation was unclear, the French colonial
authorities held the VNQDD responsible. Between 300 and 400 of the
party's approximately 1,500 members were detained in the resulting
crackdown. Many of the leaders were arrested, but Học managed to
In late 1929, the party was weakened by an internal split. Under
increasing French pressure, the VNQDD leadership switched tack,
replacing a strategy of isolated clandestine attacks against
individuals with a plan to expel the French in a single blow with a
large-scale popular uprising. After stockpiling home-made weapons, the
VNQDD launched the
Yên Bái mutiny
Yên Bái mutiny on February 10, 1930 with the aim
of sparking a widespread revolt. VNQDD forces combined with
disaffected Vietnamese troops, who mutinied against the French
colonial army. The mutiny was quickly put down, with heavy French
retribution. Học and other leading figures were captured and
executed and the VNQDD never regained its political strength in the
Some remaining factions sought peaceful means of struggle, while other
groups fled across the border to
Kuomintang bases in the Yunnan
province of China, where they received arms and training. During the
1930s, the party was eclipsed by Ho Chi Minh's Indochinese Communist
Vietnam was occupied by Japan during
World War II
World War II and, in
the chaos that followed the Japanese surrender in 1945, the VNQDD and
the ICP briefly joined forces in the fight for Vietnamese
independence. However, after a falling out, Ho purged the VNQDD,
leaving his communist-dominated
Viet Minh unchallenged as the foremost
anti-colonial militant organisation. As a part of the post-war
settlement that ended the First Indochina War,
Vietnam was partitioned
into two zones. The remnants of the VNQDD fled to the capitalist
south, where they remained until the Fall of
Saigon in 1975 and the
Vietnam under communist rule. Today, the party
survives only among overseas Vietnamese.
3 Initial activities
4 Assassination of Bazin
5 Internal split and change in strategy
Yên Bái mutiny
7 Exile in Yunnan
8 Post World War II
9 War against French colonial rule
13 External links
French involvement in
Vietnam started in the late 18th century when
the Catholic priest
Pigneau de Behaine
Pigneau de Behaine assisted Nguyễn Ánh, to
Nguyễn Dynasty by recruiting French volunteers. In return,
Nguyen Anh, who took the reign name
Gia Long allowed Catholic
missionaries to operate in Vietnam. However, relations became strained
under Gia Long's successor
Minh Mạng as missionaries sought to
incite revolts in an attempt to enthrone a Catholic. This prompted
anti-Christian edicts, and in 1858, a French invasion of
mounted, ostensibly to protect Catholicism, but in reality for
colonial purposes. The French steadily made gains and completed the
Vietnam in 1883. Armed revolts against colonial rule
occurred regularly, most notably through the
Cần Vương movement
Cần Vương movement of
the late-1880s. In the early-20th century, the 1916 southern revolts
Thái Nguyên uprising
Thái Nguyên uprising were notable disruptions to the French
In late 1925, a small group of young Hanoi-based intellectuals, led by
a teacher named Pham Tuan Tai and his brother Pham Tuan Lam, started
the Nam Dong Thu Xa (Southeast Asia Publishing House). They aimed to
promote violent revolution as a means of gaining independence for
Vietnam from French colonisation, and published books and brochures
Sun Yat-sen and the Chinese Revolution of 1911, as well as
opening a free school to teach quoc ngu (Romanised Vietnamese script)
to the working class. The group soon attracted the support of other
progressive young northerners, including students and teachers led by
Nguyễn Thái Học. Học was an alumnus of Hanoi's Commercial
School, who had been stripped of a scholarship because of his mediocre
Harassment and censorship imposed by the French colonial authorities
led to the commercial failure of the Nam Dong Thu Xa. By the autumn of
1927, the group's priorities turned towards more direct political
action, in a bid to appeal to more radical elements in the north.
Membership grew to around 200, distributed among 18 cells in 14
provinces across northern and central Vietnam.
Flag of Vietnamese Nationalist Party, used from 1929 to
Flag of Vietnamese Revolutionary Army during the
Yên Bái mutiny.
The Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang (VNQDD) was formed at a meeting in
December 25, 1927, with
Nguyễn Thái Học
Nguyễn Thái Học as the party's first
leader. It was Vietnam's first home-grown revolutionary party,
established three years before the Indochinese Communist Party. The
party advocated socialism, but at the outset there was considerable
debate over its other fundamental objectives. Many wanted it to
promote worldwide revolution, rather than limiting itself to
campaigning for an independent Vietnamese republic; but there were
fears that this would lead to accusations of communism, putting off
potential Vietnamese supporters who yearned above all for
independence. In a bid for moderation, the final statement was a
compromise that read:
The aim and general line of the party is to make a national
revolution, to use military force to overthrow the feudal colonial
system, to set up a democratic republic of Vietnam. At the same time
we will help all oppressed nationalities in the work of struggling to
achieve independence, in particular such neighboring countries as Laos
Although the VNQDD modelled itself on Sun Yat-sen's Chinese
Nationalist Party (the
Kuomintang or KMT, later led by Chiang
Kai-shek), even down to copying the "Nationalist Party" designation,
it had no direct relationship with its Chinese counterpart and in fact
did not gain much attention outside
Vietnam until the
Yên Bái mutiny
in 1930. Like the KMT, it was a clandestine organisation held
together with tight discipline. Its basic unit was the cell, above
which there were several levels of administration, including
provincial, regional and central committees. Also like the KMT, the
VNQDD's revolutionary strategy envisaged a military takeover, followed
by a period of political training for the population before a
constitutional government could take control.
Most party members were teachers, employees of the French colonial
government or non-commissioned officers in the colonial army. The
VNQDD campaigned mainly among these facets of society—there were few
workers or peasants in its ranks. The party's popularity was based
on a groundswell of anti-French feeling in northern
Vietnam in the
1920s; many writers had assailed society for glorifying military
actions against China, Champa,
Siam and Cambodia, Vietnam's historical
rivals, while neglecting to oppose French colonialism. The VNQDD
admitted many female members, which was quite revolutionary for the
time. It set about seeking alliances with other nationalist
factions in Vietnam. In a meeting on July 4, 1928, the Central
Committee appealed for unity among the Vietnamese revolutionary
movements, sending delegates to meet with other organisations
struggling for independence. The preliminary contacts did not yield
any concrete alliances. The VNQDD also assailed the Vietnamese
Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh for betraying the leading nationalist of the
time—Phan Bội Châu—to the French in return for a financial
reward. Ho had done this to eliminate other nationalist rivals.
The VNQDD would later be on the receiving end of another of Ho's
Financial problems compounded the VNQDD's difficulties. Money was
needed to set up a commercial enterprise, a cover for the
revolutionaries to meet and plot, and for raising funds. For this
purpose, a hotel-restaurant named the
Vietnam Hotel was opened in
September 1928. The French colonial authorities were aware of the real
purpose of the business, and put it under surveillance without taking
further preliminary action. The first notable reorganisation of
the VNQDD was in December, when
Nguyen Khac Nhu replaced Hoc as
chairman. Three proto-governmental organs were created, to form the
legislative, executive and judicial arms of government. The records of
the French secret service estimated that by early 1929, the VNQDD
consisted of approximately 1,500 members in 120 cells, mostly in areas
around the Red River Delta. The intelligence reported that most
members were students, minor merchants or low-level bureaucrats in the
French administration. The report stated that there were landlords and
wealthy peasants among the members, but that few were of
scholar-gentry (mandarin) rank. According to the historian Cecil
B. Currey, "The VNQDD's lower-class origins made it, in many ways,
closer to the labouring poor than were the Communists, many of
whom…[were] from established middle-class families."
Beginning in 1928, the VNQDD attracted substantial Vietnamese support,
provoking increased attention from the French colonial administration.
This came after a VNQDD death squad killed several French officials
and Vietnamese collaborators who had a reputation for cruelty towards
the Vietnamese populace.
Assassination of Bazin
Main article: Bazin assassination
The assassination of Hanoi-based French labour recruiter Hervé Bazin
on February 9, 1929, was a turning point that marked the beginning of
the VNQDD's decline. A graduate of the École Coloniale in Paris,
Bazin directed the recruitment of Vietnamese labourers to work on
colonial plantations. Recruiting techniques often included beating or
coercion, because the foremen who did the recruiting received a
commission for each enlisted worker. On the plantations, living
conditions were poor and the remuneration was low, leading to
widespread indignation. In response, Vietnamese hatred of Bazin led to
thoughts of an assassination. A group of workers approached the
VNQDD with a proposal to kill Bazin. Học felt that assassinations
were pointless because they would only prompt a crackdown by the
French Sûreté, thereby weakening the party. He felt that it was
better to strengthen the party until the time was ripe to overthrow
the French, viewing Bazin as a mere twig on the tree of the colonial
Turned down by the VNQDD leadership, one of the assassination's
proponents—it is unclear whether or not he was a party
member—created his own plot. With an accomplice, he shot and
killed Bazin on February 9, 1929, as the Frenchman left his mistress's
house. The French attributed the attack to the VNQDD and reacted by
apprehending all the party members they could find: between three and
four hundred men were rounded up, including 36 government clerks,
13 French government officials, 36 schoolteachers,
39 merchants, 37 landowners and 40 military personnel.
The subsequent trials resulted in 78 men being convicted and
sentenced to jail terms ranging between five and twenty years. The
arrests severely depleted the VNQDD leadership: most of the Central
Committee were captured, though Học and Nhu were among the few who
escaped from a raid on their hideout at the
Internal split and change in strategy
In 1929, the VNQDD split when a faction led by Nguyen The Nghiep began
to disobey party orders and was therefore expelled from the Central
Committee. Some sources claim that Nghiep had formed a breakaway party
and had begun secret contacts with French authorities.
Perturbed by those who betrayed fellow members to the French and the
problems this behaviour caused, Học convened a meeting to tighten
regulations in mid-1929 at the village of Lac Dao, along the Gia
Lam–Haiphong railway. This was also the occasion for a shift in
strategy: Học argued for a general uprising, citing rising
discontent among Vietnamese soldiers in the colonial army. More
moderate party leaders believed this move to be premature, and
cautioned against it, but Học's stature meant he prevailed in
shifting the party's orientation towards violent struggle. One of
the arguments presented for large-scale violence was that the French
response to the
Bazin assassination meant that the party's strength
could decline in the long term. The plan was to provoke a series
of uprisings at military posts around the
Red River Delta in early
1930, where VNQDD forces would join Vietnamese soldiers in an attack
on the two major northern cities of
Hanoi and Haiphong. The leaders
agreed to restrict their uprisings to Tonkin, because the party was
For the remainder of 1929, the party prepared for the revolt. They
located and manufactured weapons, storing them in hidden depots. The
preparation was hindered by French police, particularly the seizure of
Yên Bái mutiny
Yên Bái mutiny
At around 01:30 on Monday, February 10, 1930, approximately 40 troops
belonging to the 2nd Battalion of the Fourth Régiment de
Tirailleurs Tonkinois stationed at Yên Bái, reinforced by around 60
civilian members of the VNQDD, attacked their 29 French officers and
warrant officers. The rebels had intended to split into three
groups: the first group was to infiltrate the infantry, kill French
NCOs in their beds and raise support among Vietnamese troops; the
second, supported by the VNQDD civilians, was to break into the post
headquarters; and the third group would enter the officers'
quarters. The French were caught off guard; five were killed and
three seriously wounded. The mutineers isolated a few more French
officers from their men, even managing to raise the VNQDD flag above
one of the buildings. About two hours later, however, it became
apparent that the badly coordinated uprising had failed, and the
remaining 550 Vietnamese soldiers helped quell the rebellion rather
than participate in it. The insurrectionists had failed to liquidate
the Garde indigène town post and could not convince the frightened
townspeople to join them in a general revolt. At 07:30, a French
Indochinese counterattack scattered the mutineers; two hours later,
order was re-established in Yên Bái.
That same evening, two further insurrectionary attempts failed in the
Sơn Dương sector. A raid on the Garde indigène post in Hưng Hóa
was repelled by the Vietnamese guards, who appeared to have been
tipped off. In the nearby town of Kinh Khe, VNQDD members killed
the instructor Nguyen Quang Kinh and one of his wives. After
destroying the Garde indigène post in Lâm Thao, the VNQDD briefly
seized control of the district seat. At sunrise, a new Garde indigène
unit arrived and inflicted heavy losses on the insurgents, mortally
wounding Nhu. Aware of the events in the upper delta region, Pho
Duc Chinh fled and abandoned a planned attack on the Sơn Tây
garrison, but he was captured a few days later by French
On February 10, a VNQDD member injured a policeman at a Hanoi
checkpoint; at night, Arts students threw bombs at government
buildings, which they regarded as part of the repressive power of the
colonial state. On the night of February 15–16, Học and his
remaining forces seized the nearby villages of Phu Duc and Vĩnh
Bảo, in Thái Bình and Hải Dương provinces respectively, for a
few hours. In the second village, the VNQDD killed the local mandarin
of the French colonial government, Tri Huyen. On February 16,
French warplanes responded by bombarding the VNQDD's last base at Co
Am village; on the same day, Tonkin's Resident Superior René Robin
dispatched 200 Gardes indigènes, eight French commanders and two
Sûreté inspectors. A few further violent incidents occurred until
February 22, when Governor-General
Pierre Pasquier declared that the
insurrection had been defeated. Học and his lieutenants, Chinh and
Nguyen Thanh Loi, were apprehended.
A series of trials were held to prosecute those arrested during the
uprising. The largest number of death penalties was handed down by the
first Criminal Commission, which convened at Yen Bay. Among the
87 people found guilty at Yen Bay, 46 were servicemen. Some
argued in their own defence that they had been "surprised and forced
to take part in the insurrection". Of the 87 convicted, 39 were
sentenced to death, five to deportation, 33 to life sentences of
forced labour, nine to 20 years imprisonment, and one to five
years of forced labour. Of those condemned to death, 24 were civilians
and 15 were servicemen. Presidential pardons reduced the number of
death penalties from 39 to 13. Học and Chinh were among the 13 who
were executed on June 17, 1930. The condemned men cried "Viet
Nam!" as the guillotine fell. Học wrote a final plea to the
French, in a letter that claimed that he had always wanted to
cooperate with French authorities, but that their intransigence had
forced him to revolt. Học contended that France could only stay in
Indochina if they dropped their "brutal" policies, and became more
amiable towards the Vietnamese. The VNQDD leader called for
universal education, training in commerce and industry, and an end to
the corrupt practices of the French-installed mandarins.
Exile in Yunnan
Following Yen Bay, the VNQDD became more diffuse, with many factions
effectively acting virtually autonomously of one another. Le Huu
Canh—who had tried to stall the failed mutiny—attempted to reunite
what remained of the party under the banner of peaceful reform. Other
factions, however, remained faithful to Học's legacy, recreating the
movement in the Hanoi-Haiphong area. A failed assassination attempt on
Governor-General Pasquier led to French crackdowns in 1931 and 1932.
The survivors escaped to
Yunnan in southern China, where some of
Nghiep's supporters were still active. The
Yunnan VNQDD was in
fact a section of the Chinese Kuomintang, who protected its members
from the Chinese government while funds were raised by robbery and
extortion along the Sino-Vietnamese border. This eventually led to a
Chinese government crackdown, but VNQDD members continued to train at
Yunnan Military School; some enlisted in the nationalist Chinese
army while others learned to manufacture weapons and munitions in the
Yên Bái mutiny, the VNQDD went into exile in China,
merging with some followers of
Phan Bội Châu
Phan Bội Châu (pictured).
Nghiep was briefly jailed by
Yunnan authorities, but continued to run
the party from his cell. Upon his release in 1933, Nghiep consolidated
the party with similar groups in the area, including some followers of
Phan Bội Châu
Phan Bội Châu who had formed a Canton-based organisation with
similar aims in 1925. Chau's group had formed in opposition to the
communist tendencies of Ho Chi Minh's Revolutionary Youth League.
However, Ho betrayed Chau to eliminate a potential rival and to pocket
a reward. With nationalist Chinese aid, Chau's followers had set
up a League of Oppressed Oriental Peoples, a Pan-Asian group that
ended in failure. In 1932 the League made the point of declaring a
"Provisional Indochinese Government" at Canton. In July 1933,
Chau's group was integrated into Nghiep's
Yunnan organisation. In
1935, Nghiep surrendered to the French consulate in Shanghai. The
remainder of the VNQDD was paralysed by infighting and began losing
political relevance, with only moderate activity until the outbreak of
World War II
World War II and Japan's invasion of
French Indochina in 1940.
They attempted to organise workers along the
threatening occasional border assaults, with little success.
The VNQDD was gradually overshadowed as the leading Vietnamese
independence organisation by Ho's Indochinese Communist Party
(ICP). In 1940, Ho arrived in Yunnan, which was a hotbed of both
ICP and VNQDD activity. He initiated collaboration between the ICP and
other nationalists such as the VNQDD. At the time,
World War II
World War II had
broken out and Japan had conquered most of eastern
China and replaced
the French in Vietnam. Ho moved east to the neighbouring province of
Guangxi, where Chinese military leaders had been attempting to
organise Vietnamese nationalists against the Japanese. The VNQDD had
been active in
Guangxi and some of their members had joined the KMT
army. Under the umbrella of KMT activities, a broad alliance of
nationalists emerged. With Ho at the forefront, the Viet Nam Doc Lap
Dong Minh Hoi (Vietnamese Independence League, usually known as the
Viet Minh) was formed and based in the town of Chinghsi. The
pro-VNQDD nationalist Ho Ngoc Lam, a KMT army officer and former
disciple of Phan Boi Chau, was named as the deputy of Phạm Văn
Đồng, later to be Ho's Prime Minister. The front was later
broadened and renamed the Viet Nam Giai Phong Dong Minh (Vietnam
Liberation League). It was an uneasy situation, as another VNQDD
leader, Truong Boi Cong, a graduate of a KMT military academy, wanted
to challenge the communists for pre-eminence, while Vũ Hồng
Khanh led a virulently anti-communist VNQDD faction. The Viet Nam
Revolutionary League was a union of various Vietnamese nationalist
groups, run by the pro Chinese VNQDD. Chinese KMT General Zhang Fakui
created the league to further Chinese influence in Indochina, against
the French and Japanese. Its stated goal was for unity with China
under the Three Principles of the People, created by KMT founder Dr.
Sun and opposition to Vietnamese and French Imperialists. The
Revolutionary League was controlled by Nguyen Hai Than, who was born
China and could not speak Vietnamese. General Zhang shrewdly
blocked the Communists of Vietnam, and
Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh from entering the
league, as his main goal was Chinese influence in Indochina. The
KMT utilized these Vietnamese nationalists during
World War II
World War II against
Japanese forces. At one stage, the communists made an appeal for
other Vietnamese anti-colonialists to join forces, but condemned Khanh
as an "opportunist" and "fake revolutionary" in their letter. The
cooperation in the border area lasted for only a few months before
VNQDD officials complained to the local KMT officials that the
communists, led by Dong and Võ Nguyên Giáp, were attempting to
dominate the league. This prompted the local authorities to shut
down the front's activities.
Post World War II
August Revolution and Empire of Vietnam
In March 1945, the VNQDD received a boost, when Imperial Japan, which
Vietnam since 1941, deposed the French administration,
and installed the Empire of Vietnam, a puppet regime. This
resulted in the release of some anti-French activists, including VNQDD
On August 15, 1945, Japanese surrendered to
Republic of China
Republic of China in
Vietnam. General Lu Han (盧漢) was the representative of the
Nationalist Army. The government of
Republic of China
Republic of China favored VNQDD
Viet Minh which led to Ho's reliance on the rebel Chinese
Viet Minh seized power and set up a provisional government in the
wake of Japan's withdrawal from Vietnam. This move violated a
prior agreement between the member parties of the Viet Nam Cach Mang
Dong Minh Hoi (Vietnamese Revolutionary League), which included the
VNQDD as well as the Vietminh, and Ho was pressured to broaden his
government's appeal by including the VNQDD (now led by Nguyễn
Tường Tam). The Vietminh announced that they would abolish the
mandarin governance system and hold national elections with universal
suffrage in two hold. The VNQDD objected to this, fearing that the
communists would perpetrate electoral fraud.
After the seizure of power, hundreds of VNQDD members returned from
China, only to be killed at the border by the Vietminh.
Nevertheless, the VNQDD arrived in northern
Vietnam with arms and
supplies from the KMT, in addition to its prestige as a Vietnamese
nationalist organisation. Nationalist
China backed the VNQDD in the
hope of gaining more influence over its southern neighbour. Ho tried
to broaden his support in order to strengthen himself, in addition to
decreasing Chinese and French power. He hoped that by co-opting VNQDD
members, he could shut out the KMT. The communists had no
intention of sharing power with anyone in the long term and regarded
the move as purely a strategic exercise. Giap, the Vietminh's
military chief, called the VNQDD a "group of reactionaries plotting to
rely on Chiang Kai-Shek's
Kuomintang and their rifle barrels to snatch
a few crumbs". The VNQDD dominated the main control lines between
China near Lào Cai. They funded their
operations from the tribute that they levied from the local
populace. Once the majority of the non-communist nationalists had
returned to Vietnam, the VNQDD banded with them to form an
anti-Vietminh alliance. The VNQDD and the Dai Viet Quoc Dan Dang
(DVQDD, Nationalist Party of Greater Vietnam) started their own
military academy at
Yên Bái to train their own military
recruits. Armed confrontations between the Vietminh and the
nationalists occurred regularly in major northern cities. The
VNQDD were aided by the KMT, who were in northern
Vietnam as the
result of an international agreement to stabilise the country. The KMT
often disarmed local Vietminh bands.
The VNQDD then established their national headquarters in Hanoi, and
began to publish newspapers, expounding their policies and explaining
their ideology. The OSS agent Archimedes Patti, who was based in
Kunming and northern Vietnam, reported that the VNQDD were "hopelessly
disoriented politically" and felt that they had no idea of how to run
a government. He speculated that the VNQDD were driven by "desires for
personal power and economic gain". Giap accused them of being
"bandits". Military and newspaper attacks between the groups
occurred regularly, but a power-sharing agreement was put in place
until the elections occurred in order to end the attacks and
strengthen national unity to further the goal of independence. The
communists also allowed the VNQDD to continue printing material.
However, the agreement was ineffective in the meantime. The VNQDD
kidnapped Giap and the Propaganda Minister Tran Huy Lieu and held them
for three weeks until Ho agreed to remove Giáp and Lieu from the
cabinet. As a result, the VNQDD's
Vũ Hồng Khanh became defence
minister, with Giap as his deputy. What the VNQDD and other
non-communist nationalists thought to be an equitable power-sharing
agreement turned out to be a ruse. Every non-communist minister had a
communist deputy, and if the former refused to approve a decree, the
Vietminh official would do so. Many ministers were excluded from
knowing the details of their portfolio; Khanh was forbidden to see any
military statistics and some were forbidden to attend cabinet
meetings. In one case, the Minister of Social Works became a factory
worker because he was forced to remain politically idle.
Meanwhile, Giáp was able to stymie the activities of VNQDD officials
of higher rank in the coalition government. Aside from shutting down
the ability of the VNQDD officials to disseminate information, he
often ordered his men to start riots and street brawls at public VNQDD
Ho scheduled elections for December 23, but he made a deal with the
VNQDD and the Dong Minh Hoi, which assured them of 50 and
20 seats in the new national assembly respectively, regardless of
the poll results. This only temporarily placated the VNQDD, which
continued its skirmishes against the Vietminh. Eventually, Chinese
pressure on the VNQDD and the Dong Minh Hoi saw them accept a
coalition government, in which Tam served as foreign minister. For
the communists' part, they accused the KMT of intimidating them into
sharing power with the VNQDD, and claimed that VNQDD soldiers had
tried to attack polling stations. The VNQDD claimed that the
communists had engaged in vote fraud and intimidation, citing Vietminh
claims that they had received tallies in excess of 80% in areas
controlled by French troops.
War against French colonial rule
See also: First Indochina War
The Ho–Sainteny agreement, signed on March 6, 1946, saw the return
of French colonial forces to Vietnam, replacing the Chinese
nationalists who were supposed to be maintaining order. The VNQDD were
now without their main supporters. As a result, the VNQDD were further
attacked by the French, who often encircled VNQDD strongholds,
Viet Minh attacks. Giáp's army hunted down VNQDD troops and
cleared them from the Red River Delta, seizing arms and arresting
party members, who were falsely charged with crimes ranging from
counterfeiting to unlawful arms possession. The Viet Minh
massacred thousands of VNQDD members and other nationalists in a large
scale purge. Most of the survivors fled to
French-controlled areas in Vietnam. After driving the VNQDD out of
Hanoi headquarters on On Nhu Hau Street, Giáp ordered his
agents to construct an underground torture chamber on the premises.
They then planted exhumed and badly decomposed bodies in the chamber,
and accused the VNQDD of gruesome murders, although most of the dead
were VNQDD members who had been killed by Giáp's men. The
communists made a public spectacle of the scene in an attempt to
discredit the VNQDD, but the truth eventually came out and the "On Nhu
Hau Street affair" lowered their public image.
When the National Assembly reconvened in
Hanoi on October 28, only 30
of the 50 VNQDD seats were filled. Of the 37 VNQDD and Dong Minh Hoi
members who turned up, only 20 remained by the end of the session.
By the end of the year, Tam had resigned as foreign minister and fled
to China, and only one of the three original VNQDD cabinet members was
still in office. In any case, the VNQDD never had any power,
despite their numerical presence. Upon the opening of the National
Assembly, the communist majority voted to vest power in an executive
committee almost entirely consisting of communists; the legislature
met only once a year. In any case, the façade of a legislature
was dispensed with as the
First Indochina War
First Indochina War went into full flight. A
small group of VNQDD fighters escaped Giáp's assault and retreated to
a mountainous enclave along the Sino-Vietnamese border, where they
declared themselves to be the government of Vietnam, with little
Ngo Dinh Diem
1960 South Vietnamese coup attempt
1960 South Vietnamese coup attempt and 1962 South Vietnamese
Independence Palace bombing
Vietnam gained independence in 1954, the Geneva Accords
partitioned the country into a communist north and an anti-communist
south, but stipulated that there were to be 300 days of free
passage between the two zones. During Operation Passage to
Freedom, most VNQDD members migrated to the south.
The VNQDD was deeply divided after years of communist pressure, lacked
strong leadership and no longer had a coherent military presence,
although they had a large presence in central Vietnam. The
party's disarray was only exacerbated by the actions of autocratic
President Ngô Đình Diệm, who imprisoned many of its members.
Diem's administration was a "dictatorship by Catholics—A new kind of
fascism", according to the title of a VNQDD pamphlet published in July
1955. The VNQDD tried to revolt against Diem in 1955 in central
Vietnam. During the transition period after Geneva, the VNQDD
sought to set up a new military academy in central Vietnam, but they
were crushed by Ngô Đình Cẩn, who ran the region for his elder
brother Diệm, dismantled and jailed VNQDD members and
Many officers in the Army of the Republic of
Vietnam felt that Diệm
discriminated against them because of their political leanings.
Diệm used the secret Catholic
Cần Lao Party
Cần Lao Party to keep control of the
army and stifle attempts by VNQDD members to rise through the
During the Diệm era, the VNQDD were implicated in two failed coup
attempts. In November 1960, a paratrooper revolt failed after the
mutineers agreed to negotiate, allowing time for loyalists to relieve
the president. Many of the officers involved had links to or were
members of the VNQDD, and fled the country after the coup
collapsed. In 1963, VNQDD leaders Tam and
Vũ Hồng Khanh were
among those arrested for their involvement in the plot; Tam committed
suicide before the case started, and Khanh was jailed. In February
1962, two Republic of
Vietnam Air Force pilots, Nguyễn Văn
Cừ—son of a prominent VNQDD leader—and Phạm Phú Quốc,
bombarded the Independence Palace in a bid to kill the president and
his family, but their targets escaped unharmed. Diem was
eventually deposed in a military coup and killed in November 1963.
While the generals that led the coup were not members of the VNQDD,
they sought to cultivate ARVN officers who were part of the VNQDD
because of their antipathy towards Diem.
Many VNQDD members were part of the ARVN, which sought to prevent
Vietnam from being overrun by communists during the Vietnam
War, and they were known for being more anti-communist than most
of their compatriots.
After the fall of Diệm and the execution of Cẩn in May 1964,
the VNQDD became more active in their strongholds in central Vietnam.
Nevertheless, there was no coherent national leadership and groups at
district and provincial level tended to operate autonomously. By
1965, their members had managed to infiltrate and take over the
Peoples Action Teams (PATs), irregular paramilitary counter-insurgency
forces organised by
Australian Army advisers to fight the communists,
and used them for their own purposes. In December, one VNQDD
member had managed to turn his PAT colleagues towards the nationalist
agenda, and the local party leadership in Quảng Nam approached the
Australians in an attempt to have the 1000-man PAT outfit formally
allied to the VNQDD. The overture was rejected. The politicisation
of paramilitary units worked both ways; some province chiefs used the
anti-communist forces to assassinate political opponents, including
In 1966, the
Buddhist Uprising erupted in central Vietnam, in which
some Buddhist leaders fomented civil unrest against the war, hoping to
end foreign involvement in
Vietnam and end the conflict through a
peace deal with the communists. The VNQDD remained implacably opposed
to any coexistence with the communists. Members of the VNQDD made
alliances with Catholics, collected arms, and engaged in pro-war
street clashes with the Buddhists, forcing elements of the ARVN to
intervene to stop them.
On April 19, clashes erupted in
Quảng Ngãi Province
Quảng Ngãi Province between the
Buddhists and the VNQDD, prompting the local ARVN commander Tôn
Thất Đính to forcibly restrain the two groups. Three days later
the VNQDD accused the Buddhists of attacking their premises in Hội
An and Da Nang, while US officials reported that the VNQDD were making
plans to assassinate leading Buddhists, such as the activist monk
Thích Trí Quang.
The VNQDD contested their national elections of 1967, the first
elections since the fall of Diem, which were rigged—Diem and his
people invariably gained more than 95% of the vote and sometimes
exceeded the number of registered voters. The campaign was
disorganised due to a lack of infrastructure and some VNQDD candidates
were not formally sanctioned by any hierarchy. The VNQDD focused
on the districts in I Corps in central
Vietnam where they were thought
to be strong. There were 60 seats in the senate, and the six
victorious tickets would see all ten of their members elected. The
VNQDD entered eight tickets in the senate election, and while they
totalled 15% of the national vote between them, the most of any
grouping, it was diluted between the groupings; none of the tickets
and thus none of the candidates were elected. This contrasted with one
Catholic alliance with three tickets that won only 8% of the vote, but
had all 30 candidates elected. They won nine seats in the lower
house, a small minority presence, all from districts in central
Vietnam, where they tended to poll between 20 and 40% in various
areas. The VNQDD members made several loose alliances with Hòa
Hảo members of the lower house.
See also: Massacre at Huế
Tet Offensive of 1968, the communists attacked and seized
control of the central city of
Huế for a month. During this time,
they executed around 3,000–6,000 people that they had taken
prisoner, out of a total population of 140,000. The communists
had compiled a list of "reactionaries" to be liquidated before their
assault. Known for their virulent anti-communism, VNQDD members
appeared to have been disproportionately targeted in the massacre.
After the Fall of
Saigon and the end of the
Vietnam War, the remnants
of the VNQDD were again targeted by the victorious communists. As
Vietnam is a single-party state led by the Vietnamese Communist Party,
the VNQDD is illegal. Some VNQDD members fled to the West, where they
continued their political activities. The VNQDD remains respected
among some sections of the overseas Vietnamese community as Vietnam's
leading anti-communist organisation.
^ a b c d Tucker, p. 442.
^ Hammer (1955), p. 82.
^ Duiker p. 155.
^ a b c d e Duiker, p. 156.
^ Sách "
Nguyễn Thái Học
Nguyễn Thái Học (1902 – 1930)" của Nhượng Tống
^ Lịch sử đấu tranh cận đại của Việt Nam Quốc dân
^ Thư ngỏ gửi : Ban nghiên cứu Ðảng sử Việt Nam
Quốc dân Ðảng Vietnamese Nationalist Party Archived 2014-05-11
at the Wayback Machine.
^ Vietnamese Nationalist Party : A contemporary history of a
national struggle : 1927-1954 (page 73)
^ Sách "
Nguyễn Thái Học
Nguyễn Thái Học (1902 – 1930)" của Nhượng Tống
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