Occupation and Revolution: China and the Vietnamese August Revolution of 1945

Occupation and Revolution: China and the Vietnamese August Revolution of 1945

Occupation and Revolution: China and the Vietnamese August Revolution of 1945

Occupation and Revolution: China and the Vietnamese August Revolution of 1945

Excerpt

“The presence of the Chinese in Tonkin,” Jean Sainteny wrote in 1953, “weighed in such a fashion on the entire situation so that it is necessary to study their behavior during this period to understand the events that unfolded in Indochina.” Sainteny was describing the Chinese occupation of northern Vietnam of 1945-1946, to which he was eyewitness. Chinese military forces undertook the occupation of northern Vietnam as a result of the Potsdam conference of July 1945, where Jiang Jieshi (Chiang K’aishek) took responsibility for accepting the surrender of Japanese troops in the former French colonial territory of Indochina north of the sixteenth parallel. British forces prepared to undertake the same task south of the sixteenth parallel. In compliance with this responsibility, Chinese forces entered Vietnam only a few weeks after Vietnamese nationalists launched the August Revolution. Thus, Chinese occupation troops found themselves in the middle of a Vietnamese revolution they knew little of and were illprepared to mediate. Their presence, however, was a significant factor in the overall story of the Vietnamese struggle for independence.

Despite Sainteny’s assessment of the importance of the Chinese influence on events in Vietnam, scholars have paid little attention to the Chinese occupation or the part it played in the Vietnamese revolution and, more indirectly, in the subsequent wars the French and Americans waged in Vietnam. Western scholars have produced numerous works on the Vietnamese revolution in which most agree that the Pacific War was a turning point in the history of the Vietnamese struggle for independence. However, few have taken Sainteny’s words seriously concerning the Chinese occupation of northern Vietnam at the end of the Pacific War. David . . .

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