French Interests and Policies in the Far East

By Roger Levy; Andrew Roth et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
CONCLUSION

Four years ago I wrote:

In spite of the size of her empire in Asia and Oceania, France is fortunately outside the imbroglio of the Pacific. Indo-China lies off the direct route from Europe to the Far East. When they have passed Singapore, the innumerable ships navigating these waters set their courses for Hongkong without turning aside to the Saigon River, the Bay of Camranh (which, if it were improved, could be the Brest of the Orient) or the Bay of Along.1


The Territorial Defense of Indo-China

In the event of an international conflagration, would the Indo-Chinese Federation be more vulnerable today than it was formerly? Nine thousand miles away from France, it has 700 miles of frontier in common with south China and 1,500 miles of coast-line from the Chinese border to the Kingdom of Thailand.

On the Chinese frontier France maintains partisans -- natives whom she provides with arms and pays for military service. Reinforced by the police and the regular troops, these are the best defenders of the country; they resist invasion since they are thus defending their own safety. This defense system has stood the test of time during the last forty-five years.

The total number of Indo-Chinese troops amounts to 790 officers and 27,000 non-commissioned officers and private soldiers, of whom 10,000 are Europeans (ten battalions of colonial infantry, four battalions of the Foreign Legion, seven artillery batteries, some tanks and armored cars, and two companies of engineers -- these last four types of troops often being mixed), and 17,000 natives (Annamites for the most part, Cambodians, Thos mountaineers from Tonkin, and Rhadès from south Annam). These troops constitute two divisions and one brigade: one division guards the frontier from Tonkin to Hanoi, the other from Cochin-China and Cambodia to Saigon, and the

____________________
1
Roger Lévy, Extrême-Orient et Pacifique, Paris, 1935.

-62-

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