Why Did the French Withdraw from Indochina

Topics: Vietnam, French Indochina, Ho Chi Minh Pages: 5 (1703 words) Published: November 11, 2012
Various reasons and accumulative events account for the withdrawal of the French from Indochina by 1954. Since the beginning of the French Colonisation of Indochina by 1893, tension existed by both parties which were only intensified by the series of events and ideas that followed. The aftermath of WWII France significantly weakened the country and its economy. This led to the withdrawal of the French from Indochina, because it eventually became too expensive for the French to fight for their colony. Certain events such as the allowance of the Japanese to use the country for recourses further infuriated the nationalists of the nation and pushed them further into forcing the French to withdraw from Indochina. The treatment and exploitation of the Indochinese by the French and the French’s methods of maintaining control spawned a strong negative feeling towards the French, which sparked activist groups, and anti-colonialist, nationalistic ideologies. Ho Chi Minh and the communist group he formed, the Viet Minh, played a significant role in the withdrawal of the French from Indochina. The large percentage of the population who were part of the Viet Minh, including an ample amount of peasants, were against the French colonisation of Indochina and took certain measures to ensure the French’s withdrawal from the country. The first Indochina war was a major turning point of French colonisation of Indochina. Military tactics such as Guerrilla warfare weakened the French’s set piece army and turned the tables around for the Indochinese. In particular, the battle of Dien Bien Phu and the defeat of the French were integral in their withdrawal from Indochina. The cost of World War II for the French was tremendous and greatly affected their occupation of Indochina and their withdrawal from it. France had lost their economy and Indochina was their attempt at reclaiming power. When France fell to Germany in 1940, South-Eastern France, under control of Marshall Petain, collaborated with the Germans in what was named the Vichy Government. Japan’s cooperation with Germany meant that when Japan demanded access to Indochina for recourses and tactical advantages, the Vichy government allowed them full access. Japan wanted to be in Indochina and specifically the city of Tonkin, because it would help block the Chinese from trading fuel and arms in Indochina. This affected the Indochinese because not only where the French pillaging their land and recourses but so were another enemy, the Japanese. Under Japanese control, troops were set up in the northern parts of Vietnam and regular trains were disrupted as the railroads were used to transport military personnel. This disrupted the lives of the Indochinese and caused for desperate measures that harmed the French’s occupation of Indochina. The expenses of World War II for the French and their allowance of the Japanese into Indochina intensified the civil unrest in the nation and was a significant factor in the withdrawal of France from Indochina.

The treatment and exploitation of Indochina by the French and Japanese caused civil unrest and was a cause for the creation of the Viet Minh, in turn contributing to the withdrawal of the French from Indochina. Mistreatment of Indochina by the French included the exploitation of rice during times of famine such as the 1945 famine in the north and south of Vietnam. The severity of the famine and the extent of the abuse by the French is conveyed in a quote by Geoffrey Gunn, writer for the Asia Times Online. “The deaths stemming from the great famine of 1944-45, which reached its zenith in March-April 1945 in Japanese-occupied northern Vietnam, eclipsed in scale all human tragedies of the modern period in that country up until that time. The demographics vary from French estimates of 600,000-700,000 dead, to official Vietnamese numbers of 1 million to 2 million victims” Under the French, Indochinese the peasants of the land were starving and poor due...
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